Barcelona strengthened their hold on second place in La Liga with a 3-1 win over Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou.
Memphis Depay opened the scoring with a neat finish after a sensational assist from Ousmane Dembele, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled Barcelona’s lead minutes before half time.
The former Arsenal captain then stretched Barcelona’s lead to three goals just a few minutes into the second half, before Iago Aspas replied quickly for the visitors to reduce the deficit.
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Celta Vigo suddenly found themselves down to ten men after halftime substitution Jeison Murillo - who was only on the pitch for 12 minutes - was given his marching orders for a last man foul on Depay, denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
There were worrying scenes and a lengthy delay when Gavi and Ronald Araujo clashed heads. The latter needed immediate medical attention before leaving the pitch in an ambulance. Barcelona later said in a statement that Araujo had a concussion and had been taken to hospital for checks. Reports added that Araujo maintained consciousness and was awake at the hospital.
Barcelona started to utilise the extra man when play eventually resumed, Riqui Puig had the ball in the back of Matias Dituro’s net for the fourth time but it was ruled out for marginally creeping offside before lashing his effort home at the near post.
The hosts had a few half chances towards the end of the game as ten-man Celta Vigo started to tire, but couldn’t extend their lead and the game ended 3-1.
TALKING POINT - ARAUJO SUFFERS NASTY HEAD CLASH, BARCA CLOSE IN ON SECOND
During the second half, Barcelona centre back Ronald Araujo clashed heads with teammate Gavi on the halfway line. Gavi fell to the floor instantly before Araujo got to his feet to track back, but ultimately went down 20 yards away from the original incident, which wasn’t a good sight. After a quick check, Gavi was ok to continue and returned to the pitch to see off his teammate Araujo in the back of an ambulance. Latest reports suggest Araujo remained conscious as he arrived at Barcelona hospital.
Before his accident, Araujo played his part as Barcelona closed in on second place in the La Liga table. It’s not confirmed yet, but today’s win takes them seven points clear of third place, with Sevilla having three more games to play. Barcelona only have two to play, but one more win will confirm Xavi’s side as runners-up, one better than last year's third place finish.
MAN OF THE MATCH - OUSMANE DEMBELE (BARCELONA)
It’s a shame he didn’t manage to get himself on the scoresheet, because two of Barcelona’s three goals were all about his exquisite skill and trickery. He showed a blistering change of pace for the first goal, taking on two players before Depay finished the move well, and replicated a similar move for Aubameyang’s second of the night, which ultimately wrapped up all three points for Barcelona.
He could have easily had a third assist too, once again squaring a pinpoint cross for Ansu Fati who missed from close-range, skewing the ball wide.
BARCELONA: Ter Stegen 6, Alves 6, Araujo 7, Garcia 7, Alba 6, Gavi 7, De Jong 8, Depay 8, Dembele 9, Aubameyang 8, Torres 5
Subs: Mingueza N/A, Fati 5, Lenglet 5, Puig 6, De Jong N/A
CELTA VIGO: Dituro 5, Kevin 5, Aidoo 7, Araujo 6, Galan 6, Fran Beltrán 6, Brais Mendez 6, Denis Suarez 6, Cervi 5, Iago Aspas 7, Galhardo 6
Subs: Fontan N/A, Tapia 5, Murillo 1, Solari N/A, Veiga N/A
30' - GOAL! BARCELONA 1-0 CELTA VIGO (DEPAY): Depay finishes the move, but it's all about Dembele. He shows an electrifying change of pace as he skips past two players on the right flank before squaring it across the box for Depay to slot home.
41’ - GOAL! BARCELONA 2-0 CELTA VIGO (AUBAMEYANG): It's not the prettiest of finishes from Auba, but it's a striker's finish and he doubles Barcelona's lead five minutes before the break! It's a bit of a mess from Araujo in the Celta defence as he fails to clear a scrappy cross and gifts the striker the opportunity to stab his effort home.
48’ - GOAL! BARCELONA 3-0 CELTA VIGO (AUBAMEYANG): Again, this one is all about Dembele! He grabs another assist, squaring the ball to Auba who finishes the move off exquisitely.
50’ - GOAL! BARCELONA 3-1 CELTA VIGO (ASPAS): It's a mistake at the back from Barcelona and Aspas capitalises! They're back in it.
57’ - RED CARD! Murillo is sent off for a last man challenge on Depay! He's only been on the pitch for 12 minutes.
61’ - CLASH OF HEADS: There's been a nasty clash here and Araujo is in a bad way. There's an ambulance on the pitch and he will have to be replaced.
- 33 - Barcelona are unbeaten in their 33 La Liga games played on a Tuesday (W23 D10), the best unbeaten record for a team on a specific day in the competition’s history (Opta).
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