Nico Gonzalez scored a late winner as Barcelona claimed a 3-2 home win over Elche whose second half fightback went unrewarded.
Two goals in two minutes gave Elche hope of a point at the Camp Nou as Barca suffered a sensational second half collapse from 2-0 up, but Nico struck on 85 minutes to spare the Catalans’ blushes.
Barca kicked off the match 18 points off the pace being set by Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, but picked up a much-needed victory to lift themselves up to seventh place in the table.
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It took Barcelona just 16 minutes to open the scoring with Ferran Jutgla finding the back of the net on his first La Liga start, glancing a header into the far corner of the opposition net from a corner kick.
And the hosts doubled their advantage moments later when Gavi netted a wonderful individual effort, picking up the ball 30 yards from goal and firing in off the inside of the post.
However, the match completely changed the space of two minutes in the second half as goals from Tete Morente and Pere Milla drew Elche level with Barcelona left exposed in defence.
Barca pressed for a third goal to regain the lead and made the breakthrough when Nico found the roof of the Elche net after good work by Ousmane Dembele and Gavi down the left wing.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Gavi (2R) celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Elche CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 18, 2021. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

Image credit: Getty Images

TALKING POINT - Xavi Hernandez looking to Barca’s kids to turn season around

Luuk de Jong must have thought he would start this match with Barcelona so short of attacking options right now. Instead, the Dutch striker was benched as Xavi turned to Jutgla to lead the line with Eze Abde on the left and Gavi in behind. This was a clear sign that Xavi is looking to Barca’s kids and La Masia graduates to turn the club’s season around, with Jutgla, Gavi and Nico scoring. On this basis, the Catalans have a lot of exciting young talent coming through. The future of the club appears to be in good hands.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Gavi (Barcelona)

There were a number of standout performances by Barcelona players, certainly in the first half when the Catalans had a firm grip of the match, but Gavi shone brighter than anyone else. The teenager gave Barca energy in the centre of the pitch, scoring one and assisting another. Gavi is already a key figure for club and country and this performance demonstrated why.

PLAYER RATINGS

Barcelona - Ter Stegen, Araujo, Garcia, Lenglet, Alba, Busquets, De Jong, Gavi, Jutgla, Dembele, Abde. Subs -
Elche - Badia, Palacios, Rico, Diego, Mojica, Jozan, Marcone, Mascarell, Fidel, Perez, Boye. Subs -

KEY MOMENTS

16’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Elche: Barcelona take the lead and it's the youngster Jutgla who scores his first La Liga goal! The marking from Elche was slack at the corner kick and Jutlga rose higher than anyone else inside the area to glance a header into the far corner of the net!
19’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Elche: The kids are getting the job done for Barcelona! What a sensational solo effort by Gavi who beats his man 30 yards out from goal, dribbles to the edge of the Elche penalty area and slots a low finish into the back of the net off the inside of the post!
29’ Should have scored! That was a warning sign for Barcelona who were caught out at the back. Roco controlled the pass on his chest, but could only fire over the top of the target!
62’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Elche: Elche have got a goal back and it's a very well-taken one! Morente was introduced for the start of the second half and he has lashed a finish past ter Stegen and into the back of the Barcelona net! The away side have got a lifeline!
63’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-2 Elche: Incredible! Two goals in two minutes and Elche have drawn level at the Camp Nou! Milla was left unmarked at the back post and he heads home with ter Stegen unable to keep the ball out of his net! Barcelona have collapsed at the back in this second half!
85’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-2 Elche: A third Barcelona goal and it's Nico who has put the ball in the back of the net! Dembele slotted Gavi in behind, he cut the ball back to Nico and he lashed home a finish into the roof of the Elche net! A good finish from the young midfielder!

KEY STATS

Gavi became the fourth player born in 2000 or later to score a La Liga goal for Barcelona after Ansu Fati, Nico Gonzalez and Eze Abde.
Tete Morente scored Elche’s first goal at the Camp Nou since 1978, ending a run of 20 hours of play without an away goal against Barca.
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