Barcelona held by Espanyol in chaotic derby

Barcelona held by Espanyol in chaotic derby

Local rivals Espanyol held Barcelona to a draw in a wild New Year’s Eve derby at the Nou Camp.

After seven minutes, Marcos Alonso gave Barca the lead, but a Joselu penalty brought them back.

Fullback for Barcelona In the waning moments, Jordi Alba was given a second caution, and Vinicius Souza was also expelled for the guests.

Leandro Cabrera of Espanyol was also dismissed by the referee, though VAR overturned that decision.

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.