Barcelona have beaten Osasuna 2-1 to pull further ahead at the top of La Liga despite playing the majority of the match with 10 men after Robert Lewandowski was sent off.
The league leaders arrived at El Sadar knowing that victory would extend their advantage over Real Madrid to five points following their rivals’ shock defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Monday evening.
They faced an Osasuna side in rude health, however, sixth in the table with three wins from their last five matches.
Barca looked nervy in the opening stages and, with six minutes on the clock, they conceded. Sergio Busquets had lost the ball on the edge of the area, gifting shots to Ruben Garcia and Jon Moncayola.
The latter was deflected out for a corner, with Ruben Garcia’s delivery falling nicely for David Garcia. He got a free header, Unai Garcia allowed it to run through his legs – meaning all three Garcias on the pitch had a hand in the goal – and it bounced into the back of the net.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors just after the half-hour mark. Booked for needlessly dragging back Nacho Vidal early on, Lewandowski earned a second yellow card for a shoulder charge on David Garcia as they contested a bouncing ball.
Ferran Torres thought he had nabbed an equaliser just before half-time, but he had strayed offside before rifling in Jordi Alba’s cross. Nonetheless, it gave Barca a glimmer of hope that they could turn things around.
That hope grew brighter when, a few minutes after the break, Alba whipped in a cross which was deflected to the feet of Pedri. He lashed in through a crowd of players to make it 1-1.
Chimy Avila could have won it for Osasuna late on, almost lobbing Marc-Andre ter Stegen from out wide on the left only for the Barcelona goalkeeper to backpedal and tip the ball over the crossbar.
In the end, though, Raphinha made a game-changing contribution only a few minutes after coming on for Ousmane Dembele. Frenkie de Jong floated a long ball up from the back and the Brazilian met it on the charge, looping a header over Osasuna goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez to snatch all three points.
Pique misses out on his final farewell. Though he began the game on the bench, Gerard Pique was expected to feature in some capacity in what would have been his final appearance before his retirement. Instead, he was sent off after remonstrating with the referee, Jesus Gil Manzano, at half-time.
Barca were frustrated that Unai Garcia had barged over Marcos Alonso in the box at the corner which led to Osasuna’s opener, but Pique may wish that he had protested less aggressively. Then again, given that Gil Manzano handed out eight yellow cards and two reds in total, maybe the referee was a little over the top.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona). He deserves it for that final ball alone, but De Jong was also a steadying presence in midfield as Barca wobbled following Lewandowski’s sending-off.
Had the result gone the other way, Avila would have been the standout player on account of a lively performance. As it was, though, De Jong’s cool head and eye for a pass made all the difference.
Osasuna: Fernandez 7, Vidal 6, U Garcia 6, D Garcia 7, Cruz 6, Oroz 6, Torro 6, Moncayola 7, Gomez 6, Avila 8, R Garcia 6
Subs: K Garcia 6, Brasanac 5, Pena 6, Budimir 5, Barja 5
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 7, Balde 7, Christensen 6, Alonso 6, Alba 7, Busquets 4, De Jong 8, Pedri 8, Torres 6, Lewandowski 2, Dembele 7
Subs: Gavi 6, Fati 5, Raphinha 7, Riad N/A
6’ GOAL! Osasuna have the lead! At a corner, David Garcia gets a free header, Unai Garcia lets it bounce between his legs and, having deceived Ter Stegen, it nestles in the back of the net. Barca want it to be disallowed for a foul on Alonso, but there’s nothing doing.
31’ RED CARD! Lewandowski contests a bouncing ball with David Garcia but shoulder charges the Osasuna centre-back, catching him in the face with his forearm. Gil Manzano whips out a second yellow, then a red.
45’ RED CARD! Pique, who was on the bench, has been sent off for arguing with the officials at the break. This was his last chance to play for Barca before retiring.
48’ GOAL! What a start to the second half for Barca. Alba whips in a cross which is deflected as far as Pedri, who pings a shot into the bottom corner.
85’ GOAL! Well, well, well. Barca are ahead with five minutes to play after De Jong floats a long ball up to Raphinha, who loops a header over Fernandez.