Barcelona’s nightmare week ended in more disappointment on Sunday as they conceded in the 86th minute to draw 2-2 away at struggling Osasuna.
After losing at home to Real Betis last weekend and being dumped into the Europa League by Bayern Munich on Wednesday, Barca could only muster a point against Osasuna, who sit 10th and are now winless in eight league matches.
- FG to review Senior Secondary Education curriculum
- How Igbo can reclaim rightful position in Nigeria — Imo gov
The deflation for Xavi Hernandez’s team will be heightened by the manner of Osasuna’s equaliser, coming so late in the game after two 19-year-olds, Nico Gonzalez and Abde Ezzalzouli, had set them on course for victory.
Instead, Chimy Avila drove into the corner to secure a draw for Osasuna that was as dramatic as it was deserved.
David Garcia had earlier levelled for them two minutes after Nico’s opener.
“Our young players are the positive but in general it’s negative,” said Xavi afterwards. “The players who make the difference in the club right now are 17, 18 and 19 years old.
“It is good for the future of the club, but it says a lot about the current situation.
“They are so young that they cannot be expected to perform every week. It’s a difficult situation that needs time and patience.”
Barca could have done with the boost to morale after being thumped by Bayern again in midweek but also the points, with their pursuit of La Liga’s top four becoming increasingly difficult.
“We need a win, urgently,” said Xavi, who has now overseen only two wins in his first six games in charge.
His team drop to eighth, five points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid and 15 adrift of Real Madrid, with the two Madrid clubs up against each other at the Santiago Bernabeu later on Sunday.
Barcelona were ahead in the 12th minute when Abde’s shot from distance came back to Gavi, who had time to look up and spot Nico’s dart behind the Osasuna defence.
Nico’s control was just good enough to allow a poke on the stretch into the net for his first professional goal.
Two minutes later, though, Osasuna were level, as a flailing arm from Gavi into Kike Garcia earned the home side a free-kick out wide. Jon Moncayola swung it into the box, where David Garcia rose high and guided a brilliant header into the corner.
Barcelona struggled to regain their rhythm for the rest of the first half but reclaimed their lead early in the second. Osasuna wanted a penalty when Gavi’s clearance struck the hand of Sergio Busquets but nothing was given and Barca broke fast.
The ball was spread right to Ousmane Dembele, whose chipped cross was flicked out of the reach of Frenkie de Jong but to the back post, where Abde was free. He hooked the bouncing ball high into the net.
Abde celebrated with staff and players on the bench but the contest was far from over, with Osasuna more than a match for their opponents and growing in confidence the longer Barcelona went without a third.
And in the 86th minute, they struck, Barca failing to clear a cross and the ball spilling out to Avila on the edge of the area. He drove low and hard, through the cluster of bodies and into the bottom corner. (AFP)