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Agartala
Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Late goal sees Barcelona beat Real Madrid to close in on title

Date:

Franck Kessie scored an injury-time goal that gave FC Barcelona a 2-1 win against Real Madrid in the Camp Nou Stadium to put his side 12 points clear of Madrid at the top of La Liga with 12 games left.

Kessie’s goal finished a thrilling match which Barca will believe they deserved to win, although Real Madrid were also close to a winning goal in a chaotic last 10 minutes, as Marco Asensio had an effort ruled out for a tight offside.

Barcelona started strongly and Thibaut Courtois had to make two flying saves in the first five minutes to deny Robert Lewandowski’s effort from outside the area, and then Raphinha’s diagonal header after a cross from Alejandro Balde.

However, as is so often the case, Real Madrid took advantage of Courtois’ saves and a dose of fortune as Vinicius Jr took a pass from Eduardo Camavinga and got to the byline.

There was nobody waiting for his cross, but it flicked off Ronald Araujo’s forehead to completely wrongfoot Marc-Andre ter Stegen and limp over the goal-line to put the visitors ahead in the ninth minute.

That allowed Real Madrid to defend deep against a Barca side led by Raphinha, who saw how Courtois tipped over his left-foot shot after cutting in from the left.

At times Barca were too static in attack, while Vinicius, Karim Benzema and Fede Valverde always gave the sensation they could catch Barca on the break.

Fortune smiled on Barca in the last action of the first half when Sergi Roberto – a surprise inclusion in the starting 11 – equalized after a move in which Raphinha kicked clean air, Lewandowski’s shot was blocked and the ball fell for the midfielder to fire past Courtois, who this time could do nothing.

Although a draw was a good result for Barca, they continued to commit players forward at the start of the second half, with Sergi Roberto’s cross just flicked away from Raphinha by Eder Militao after a long period of possession.

Barca’s efforts to score a second saw them exposed on the break on several occasions, and only some desperate defending frustrated the impressive Vinicius.

With a draw little use for Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti brought Rodrygo and Ferland Mendy on for Toni Kroos and Nacho in the 61st minute. Rodrygo immediately had a chance, but fired over after a rare mistake from Busquets on the edge of the Barca area.

Marco Asensio, who had just come on as a substitute, had the ball in the net in the 80th minute for Madrid, but his effort was ruled out by VAR after a long review for a narrow offside.

Real Madrid were having their best moments of the match, with Benzema and Aurelien Tchouameni having chances as Barca were drawn into an end-to-end affair that didn’t seem to suit them. However, in the 92nd minute, Kessie scored the goal that all but assures Barca the title, after a move started by Lewandowski’s backheel and continued by Balde’s cross for the midfielder to side-foot home.

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