A much-changed Barcelona side moved up to fifth in La Liga as they secured a routine 1-0 victory over RCD Mallorca at Visit Mallorca Estadi.
Xavi could only name three first-team players on his bench for Barcelona, as a number of important regulars were missing through Covid as well as injury.
Midway through the first-half, the Blaugrana were a whisker away from taking the lead twice in as many minutes, as Luuk de Jong’s low effort hit the bottom of the post with 28 minutes on the clock.
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Just 60 seconds later, the Dutchman almost pulled off the spectacular, as his acrobatic bicycle kick smacked the crossbar.
De Jong eventually got the winning goal for Barcelona at the end of the first half, as Oscar Mingueza’s whipped delivery towards the far post was headed in by the Dutchman from six-yards out.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen ensured Mallorca did not respond in stoppage-time with a spectacular and crucial stop from Jaume Costa to prevent the scores from being levelled in dramatic fashion.
Barcelona are now just one point off fourth placed Atletico Madrid, meanwhile Mallorca stay in 15th, four points clear of the relegation zone.

TALKING POINT - Barcelona manage despite much changed team

Barcelona should feel proud of what they achieved this evening considering the circumstances that have been dealt to them with regards to Covid absentees. Xavi had to throw in several youngsters this evening, such as 17-year-old Ilias Akhomach, and 19-year-old Nico Gonzalez, and they showed their qualities.
It also meant putting square pegs in round holes, as all of the back line were central defenders by trade. Make-shift right back Mingueza performed very well, providing the crucial assist for the winning goal.
Xavi will be pleased that fringe players stepped up, and the senior players that were in the team were also able to be role models on the pitch. Ter Stegen, Gerard Pique and De Jong were brilliant. Overall, a superb night's work, all things considered, especially as Barcelona are now just one point off the top four.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH - Luuk de Jong

With Covid and injuries really affecting the squad that Xavi could select for Barcelona, fringe players and B-team youngsters were given a chance to impress, and the 31-year-old striker was one of them. The Dutchman definitely showed what he could do.
De Jong had two efforts hit the woodwork midway through the first-half, and was consistently a presence in the air when Barcelona opted to play the ball out wide and get crosses into the box.
His second effort that struck the bar really deserved to be a goal for its sheer audacity - a bicycle kick from a deep cross that was inches away from going in.
He eventually got his second goal in a Barcelona shirt, heading in Mingueza's cross to give Xavi something to think about in the coming weeks. In addition, De Jong won six of his nine aerial duels, made one tackle and also made two clearances.

La chilena de Luuk de Jong en el Mallorca-Barcelona

Image credit: Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

Mallorca: Reina 6, Maffeo 6, Russo 6, Valjent 6, J. Costa 6, Battaglia 7, Baba 5, Sanchez 6, Dani Rodriguez 7, Lee Kang-In 6, Angel Rodriguez 5. Subs: Llabres 6, Nino 6, Galaretta 6, Prats 6, Mboula 6.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 7, Pique 8, Araujo 7, Puig 6, L. de Jong 8, F. de Jong 7, Mingueza 7, Garcia 7, Nico Iglesias 6, Jutgla 6, Akhomach 7. Subs: Pedrola 6, Sanz 6, Lenglet 6.

KEY MOMENTS

28’ - WHAT A CHANCE! Jutgla threads it in perfectly for Luuk de Jong, but his light contact on the ball is not great but the ball skims the bottom of the post!
29’ - ALMOST INCREDIBLE! What an effort and it deserved a goal! Luuk de Jong acrobatically meets a cross with an attempted overhead kick, and it smacks the top of the crossbar! So close to an outstanding goal!
44’ - GOAL! Barcelona take the lead late in the half! Puig switches the ball across the field for Mingueza, who whips in a delightful ball to the back post, and Luuk de Jong heads the ball in past an outstretched Manolo Reina!
90+2’ - WHAT A SAVE! Ter Stegen with a stunning reflex stop to keep the scores level! A cross is delivered to the far post, and an on-rushing Jaume Costa connects with it with his left foot but the German makes a stunning reaction stop to deny the full-back!

KEY STATS

- The average age of Barcelona’s' starting XI at Mallorca was 24 years old & 201 days - their third youngest in La Liga since 2005/06.
- Luuk de Jong is the first Barcelona player apart from Leo Messi to hit the woodwork twice in a single La Liga game since 16th August 2019.
- Luuk de Jong has scored nine of his 12 La Liga goals away from home (75%), the highest percentage between the players who have scored at least six goals in the competition since the 2019/20 season.
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