Barcelona end 2022 with a disappointing draw in the Catalan Derby
Barcelona’s inability to kill off a game once again bit them as Espanyol managed to rescue a draw in the Catalan Derby.
Marcos Alonso gave the hosts the lead in the seventh minute off a header. The center-back had an opportunity to score a second and increase the lead but saw his effort sail wide.
The second half started similar to the first with Barcelona having the majority of possession but unable to create much danger. Robert Lewandowski had another chance to increase the lead but saw his header go wide of the mark.
Espanyol had done little to trouble Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the second half. Then, the wheels fell off.
Alonso, too focused on the ball, clipped the heel of Joselu who went down and referee Mateu Lahoz whistled for a penalty.
Joselu scored and that’s where it became the Mateu Lahoz show.
Jordi Alba took exception to the visitors’ celebration and was shown a yellow. After some passage of play, and even more yellow cards, Lahoz called a foul on Andreas Christensen. As the wall was being set up, he issued a second yellow to Alba and the left-back was sent off.
Minutes later, Barcelona went on a counter with Pedri being taken out by Vinicius Souza. Lewandowski continued with the ball but was also taken down and was more or less stepped on. Lahoz gave Souza a second yellow and sent off. Astonishingly, he initially gave Cabrera a red for aggression but later rescinded it after taking a second look at the VAR monitor and spent ages explaining his actions.
The abysmal display by Lahoz is going to be one of the talking points but Barcelona still had a couple of opportunities to break the deadlock but failed to do so. Had they managed to convert the handful of chances they had both before and after the equalizer, the antics by the referee would have served as a footnote.
The draw sees Barcelona lead in LaLiga vanish and will enter the new year tied with Real Madrid in first place with 38 points.