With five minutes left to go, it seemed like Barcelona were heading for a disappointing draw at home against Osasuna. A draw made even worse considering Osasuna were playing a man down since the 27th minute.
Enter Jordi Alba.
The Barcelona veteran was brought on as a second half substitute for Alejandro Balde. Alba hasn’t played much at all this season and is strongly rumored with an exit at the end of the season. But he might have scored the goal that all but gave the Catalan side the league title.
Near the byline, Robert Lewandowski lifted a cross back toward the center, Frenkie de Jong connected and headed the ball to a wide open Alba. The left-back then struck the ball with the outside of his left foot. The ball spun toward the near post and struck the post before reaching the back of the net, much to the delight of Barcelona and those in attendance at the Camp Nou.
“For a full-back, I have been lucky enough to score a lot of goals,” Alba said after the game. “It was important to win. It was a difficult game against a team who are having a great season. I knew I could do damage coming on, given how the game was and everything went well.”
That was the only goal Barcelona got and, as it turned out, the only one they needed as they pulled out another clean sheet and another 1-0 result. But they suffered more than they needed to considering they had a man advantage. As has been the theme this season, they squandered a number of chances and were even caught out a few times by Osasuna in attack.
“It’s an important step towards the title,” Xavi Hernandez said. “We suffered too much. We missed too many clear chances. Osasuna defended well but in the end we got the goal through Jordi. It almost tastes better to win like this sometimes. The team showed hunger, but the goal should have arrived earlier.”
Coupled with Real Madrid’s 2-0 loss to Real Sociedad, Barcelona is now 14 points clear of their bitter rivals.
Barcelona now must wait a couple of weeks before their next match. As if they needed any more motivation, they could claim another LaLiga title should they pull out a win in the Catalan Derby against Espanyol.