Elche 1-2 Barcelona: Memphis Depay converts late penalty as revival under Xavi continues with Catalan giants now up to third in the table
- Memphis Depay scored winner as Barcelona beat Elche 2-1 away on Sunday
- Ferran Torres drew Barca level after Fidel Chaves had put hosts in front
- Catalans have won four of their last five LaLiga games and are third in the table
- Barcelona were ninth when Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman back in November
Ferran Torres scored his first league goal for Barcelona as they came back from 1-0 down to beat Elche.
Memphis Depay scored emphatically from the penalty spot to get the winner but it was Torres’ introduction at half-time that changed the game for Barcelona.
Elche took the lead on 44 minutes when a mistake from Pedri gifted Fidel Chaves possession and he cut infield to arrow his shot past Marc Andre ter Stegen. The goal was against the run of play. Tete Morente had gone close for the home side but the balance of chances had been in Barcelona’s favour.
Memphis Depay scored a late winner as Barcelona beat Elche 2-1 on Sunday afternoon
Ousmane Dembele had gone clear but his lob over Edgar Badia had been pushed away. When Frenkie de Jong tried to finish from the rebound the ball was saved on the line by Diego Gonzalez. Sergio Busquets then sent De Jong clear but he was unable to beat Badia.
At the restart, and with Torres on, Barcelona leveled. Dembele crossed from the right and from Jordi Alba’s pass. Torres scored past Badia. He had already missed one chance to put Barcelona level and had another shot saved by Badia as Barcelona threw everything at Elche.
When the winning goal came it was from the spot after VAR had given a hand-ball against Antonio Barragan. At first appeals were waved away but the referee changed his mind after seeing the pitch-side incident, persuaded by protesting Barcelona players that the defender had stuck out an elbow to clear the ball.
Memphis put the kick right in the top corner, and with such power, that even if he had told poor Badia where he was going to put it, he would have had no chance. Elche kept going forward however and Ter Stegen tipped brilliantly over from Pere Milla after Fidel had found him with a low cross.
With the win at Elche, Barcelona moved up to third in the LaLiga table above Real Betis
Elche were then furious with match referee Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez because he waved away their appeals for a handball in the area against Alba. The ball certainly struck the left-back’s arm but it was ball to hand and not – as it appeared with Barragan – the other way around.
Barcelona could have extended their lead. Torres had several opportunities but was denied twice by Badia. Adama Traore, on for Dembele, also went close but could not beat Badia.
In the dying seconds Ter Stegen saved again from Elche’s last corner and when Barcelona broke Adama looked to have been brought down in the area. There might have been another VAR intervention but the referee blew for the end of the six minutes of added time.
Barcelona’s terrific run had continued and for the second week running two of Xavi’s substitutes had found the back of the net. He now has incredible attacking strength in depth at his disposal and he is making the most of it.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.