Barcelona Held By Defiant Espanyol In Dramatic Display

Barcelona were held to a draw by local rivals Espanyol in a chaotic New Year’s Eve derby at the Nou Camp.

Marcos Alonso gave Barca the lead after seven minutes, however they were pegged back by a Joselu penalty.

Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba received a second yellow card in the final minutes, while Vinicius Souza was also dismissed for the visitors.

The referee also sent off Espanyol’s Leandro Cabrera, although that was overturned by VAR.

Despite failing to win, Barcelona returned to the top of La Liga on goal difference ahead of Real Madrid, who beat Real Valladolid 2-0 on Friday.

On Saturday, Alonso nodded home from close range following a flick by defensive partner Andreas Christensen, but Barcelona missed several chances to extend their advantage.

They were made to pay with 17 minutes remaining when Alonso clipped Joselu in the penalty area, with the ex-Stoke and Newcastle striker picking himself up to slot the spot-kick down the middle.

Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz – who officiated the chaotic Argentina versus Netherlands quarter-final at the 2022 World Cup – handed out a total of 16 yellow cards and two reds in this game.

Alba got his second booking for complaining about the location of the defensive wall from a free-kick.

Souza was dismissed for a second yellow after a foul on Robert Lewandowski, while Cabrera was initially given a straight red for appearing to kick the Barca striker immediately afterwards – although that was overturned on video review.

Along with 15 yellows for players, Barcelona manager Xavi was also booked for complaining about one of Lahoz’s decisions.