MADRID (AP) — With an improbable win, Barcelona ensured it will go into the World Cup break at the top of the Spanish league standings.
Robert Lewandowski was shown his first red card in almost a decade and Gerard Pique was forced off the bench in the final game of his career, but Rafinha scored late on as Barcelona beat Osasuna 2-1 and put the world in front of them. Spanish league lead secured. Stopping the jam.
Lewandowski’s second career red card came in the first half of Tuesday’s win, which left the Catalan club five points ahead of Real Madrid. Madrid, who have a game in hand, suffered their first league defeat of the season 3-2 at Rio de Janeiro on Monday. The defending champions will host relegation-threatened Cadiz on Thursday.
Pique was sent off to complain to the referee after the half-hour whistle. The veteran Spain defender made Xavi Hernandez’s squad even though he bid farewell at the Camp Nou after announcing his retirement from football at the weekend.
Lewandowski, who has played for Borussia Dortmund since 2013, was shown his second yellow card in the 31st minute after a challenge on Osasuna defender David Garcia.
Garcia opened the scoring for the hosts in the sixth minute with a header. Padre Gonzalez equalized with a strike from inside the area in the 48th after Osasuna’s defense failed to fully clear a cross from Jordi Alba, and substitute Rafinha headed in a long cross from Frenkie de Jong in the 85th. Later he scored the winner with a header. Brazilian Ford entered the game seven minutes earlier.
“It was a difficult game and it became even more difficult after Robert was sent off,” Pedri said. “We knew we were going to have a chance, and when we had the chance we scored.”
Barcelona looked to have been beaten, but Rafinha scored after De Jong’s long ball broke free from the defenders, his header from the edge of the area past the goalkeeper and into the net.
Osasuna was trying to get its third consecutive victory, and fourth in the last five games, with its only defeat at this stage in Girona. A win would leave the Pamplona team third in the standings. Instead it dropped to sixth.
“It’s a shame, we’re upset,” Garcia said. “We didn’t play well in the second half and we paid a heavy price for that. We should have gone for the second goal to try and finish the game.
Barcelona has won five games in a row in the league since losing the “Clásico” in Madrid last month, but at the same time it was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League for the second season.
A group of hard-line Barcelona supporters attacked Osasuna supporters before a match in Pamplona.
Barcelona fans reportedly used knives and sticks in the attack, which left a few Osasuna supporters with minor injuries.
No arrests were reported.
Both clubs have condemned the incident.
Athletic Bilbao beat Valladolid 3-0 at home to move into third place with their second win in three games.
Gorka Grozita scored a goal in each half and Dani Vivian added a third near the end of the game at the San Mames stadium.
Valladolid remained in 10th place.
Elche’s struggles as the only team without a league win continued with a 2-1 home loss to Girona.
The hosts went ahead with a goal from Paul Lerola in the 16th, but Girona fought back with an equalizer from Ivan Martin in the 39th and a winner from Tati Castellanos in the 66th.
It was the second consecutive win for Girona, who sit in 13th place.
The last-placed Envoy has 10 losses – including in its last three matches – and four draws. It is seven points behind second-to-last place Cadiz, who have a game in hand.