Barcelona played out a 1-1 draw against Espanyol in a controversial Catalan derby that saw both sides finish with ten men.
With Real Madrid winning against Real Valladolid on Friday evening, a win for Barcelona would have seen them lead their archrivals by two points at the top of the table, but the Camp Nou side could only get one point from the game.
Barcelona Start Strong
The home side made a strong start to the game with Marcos Alonso opening the scoresheet with a header in the seventh minute.
Andreas Christensen headed a corner onto the path of Alonso who thumped his header home to give Barcelona the perfect start to the derby.
The hosts should have been out of sight in the first twenty minutes but missed several glorious opportunities to extend their lead.
Ansu Fati missed two chances while Raphinha spurned a glorious one on one opportunity as the hosts failed to make their domination count as they headed into half time with a one goal lead.
Espanyol hardly got a foothold into the game with Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Ander ter Stegen having hardly anything to do in first half.
The hosts dropped their levels in the second half playing with a far less intensity and hardly showing urgency to get a second goal. Robert Lewandowski put a header just a yard wide in the 56th minute following a fantastic cross from Alonso.
An otherwise dull second half suddenly came to life when referee Mateu Lahoz started dishing out unnecessary yellow cards to players.
Espanyol got a golden opportunity to restore parity after striker Joselu was brought down by Alonso in the 73rd minute and the Spaniard made no mistake to tie the game.
Four minutes later, Jordi Alba was sent off for dissent while Espanyol also had Vincius Souza, and Leandro Cabrera see red in a matter of minutes. However, after a VAR check Cabrera’s red card was rescinded which rounded off Lahoz’s poor officiating.
The game saw the referee giving out 14 yellow cards along with the two sending offs.
Lewandowski had the chance to grab all three points after being put through on goal but Espanyol goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez denied the Polish striker to give the away side a point on their return back home.
Barcelona go into the new year at the top of standings on goal difference with 38 points from 15 games.
Photo credit: IMAGO / Pressinphoto
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