Espanyol vs FC Barcelona: the woodwork made the Catalan derby end in a draw (1-1)

Espanyol and Barça shared the points in the season’s first Catalan derby after FC Barcelona hit the woodwork on three occasions. Cesc Fàbregas opened the scoring within the first quarter of an hour and Alvaro hit a late equaliser. The draw leaves Barça five points behind Real Madrid in second spot.

Roger Bogunyà

January 9, 2012 11:33 AM

Barcelona (FCB).- Sometimes it just seems like the ball just doesn’t want to go in and Sunday evening was one of those games for Barça, who ended up taking just a point from the Espanyol’s Stadium. However, for the chances FC Barcelona created, they deserved so much more. Three efforts against the woodwork –one from Cesc Fàbregas another from Leo Messi and a third from Gerard Piqué- frustrated Guardiola’s men. Barça players were forced to settle for a single goal from Cesc on 13 minutes, after an earlier goal had been disallowed –which was cruelly wiped out by a late strike from Alvaro. Even then there was a chance to win the derby when a big penalty shout for handball against Raul Rodríguez in almost the last action of the game was waved aside by the referee.

The draw leaves Barça five points behind Madrid in second spot ahead of their next game – Thursday’s second leg Cup game against Osasuna in Pamplona.

Valdés and Cesc decisive at both ends

This was a typical derby game from the off, with Barça coming out determined to impose their trademark sparkling game and Espanyol equally committed to performing in front of their home fans. It was the hosts who had the first chance when Verdú forced a great stop from Valdés and then struck the rebound goalwards only for Piqué to clear off the line. Barça were controlling possession though and Cesc soon had the ball in the net before the ref blew for a handball in the build up by Messi. Alexis then failed to punish a nervous Cristian in the Espanyol goal, before Cesc headed home an Alves cross from the edge of the box to open the scoring.

Cesc comes close to making it two

Barça were now making plenty of chances in the Espanyol box, though suffering in their own area, as they showed some uncharacteristic untidiness. Thievy and Verdú both hit wide and high, whilst Puyol and Abidal were called on to intervene decisively on a couple of occasions. Guardiola’s three man defence and Pochettino’s equally attacking tactics were providing the fans with plenty of football and Cesc nearly rounded off a brilliant individual move just before the break, only to see his shot hit the post.

Messi post

There were fewer chances after the break as the game became concentrated into the midfield area with neither side able to impose themselves completely. Barça were finding it hard to find spaces, whilst Espanyol were unable to create any openings for themselves. Pep Guardiola then threw on Pedro for Alexis and the Spanish winger set up Messi with a clever pass, but the woodwork again denied FC Barcelona their second goal as the Argentinean tried to slot in from a tight angle.

Álvaro equalises… and the woodwork saves Espanyol

It looked as if the game was winding down and then Alvaro headed home after a flick on from Thievy at the front post. Barça came back though and Piqué looked to have pulled it back in the final minute when he shot from close range, but the woodwork again kept the visitors out and from the rebound Pedro’s shot was blocked by Raul Rodriguez’s arm, though the referee failed to see the penalty. As the final whistle went, Barça were left to rue the chances they missed and had to settle for just one point.