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Barcelona edges Osasuna in 1st game since coach Xavi announced decision to leave. Atletico also wins
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Barcelona edges Osasuna in 1st game since coach Xavi announced decision to leave. Atletico also wins

Feb 11, 2024

MADRID (AP) — With coach Xavi Hernández still in charge, Barcelona got back on track with a 1-0 win over Osasuna in the Spanish league on Wednesday.

Young Brazil forward Vitor Roque scored his first goal since joining the club in Barcelona’s first match since Xavi announced he will leave at the end of the season.

Xavi had made the announcement after a 5-3 home loss to Villarreal at home on Saturday, three days after Barcelona had been eliminated 4-2 by Athletic Bilbao in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey. He had hoped his announcement would lower the stress and tension surrounding both the team and himself.

“I made my decision to achieve this, to get the team to react,” Xavi said. “I knew that if the players could give an extra 1 percent, they would. And the fans were superb. We need unity.”

But Barcelona still struggled at home against an opponent that played with 10 men from the 67th minute after defender Unai Garcia was sent off with a second yellow card for a foul on Vitor Roque, who scored in the 63rd. The 18-year-old forward, making his sixth appearance after arriving from Brazil’s Atletico Paranaense this season, headed in a cross by João Cancelo about a minute after coming off the bench.

The match was postponed from earlier this month because of the teams’ participation in the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia, where Real Madrid beat Barcelona 4-1 in the final.

The victory moved Barcelona back within eight points of Spanish league leader Girona. Barcelona sits seven points behind Madrid, which can retake the lead if it wins at Getafe on Thursday in its postponed game because of the Super Cup.

Osasuna, which qualified for the Super Cup as the runner-up finisher in the Copa del Rey last season, had won two of its last three league games. It stayed 12th in the standings.

Barcelona forward Ferran Torres had to be substituted seven minutes into the match with a hamstring injury.


Atletico Madrid stayed in third place, just ahead of Barcelona, after a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano, with Memphis Depay scoring a 90th-minute winner at the Metropolitano stadium.

It was the fifth goal in five matches for Depay, who had a goal disallowed for offside in the 82nd.

Reinildo had given the hosts the lead in the 35th with his first goal with Atletico, and Rayo equalized with Álvaro García in the 42nd.

“We didn’t play well but luckily we got the result we needed,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.

The victory extended Atletico’s unbeaten run at home to 28 matches in all competitions. Its last home defeat was against Barcelona in January last year in the Spanish league.

Rayo, sitting 13th in the standings, hasn’t won in five straight matches in all tournaments. It had lost 7-0 to Atletico in their first league meeting this season.

Rayo coach Francisco Rodríguez complained of fouls against his players in both of Atletico goals. He was sent off for complaining in stoppage time.

Atletico’s next league match is at Real Madrid on Sunday. Rayo hosts Sevilla.


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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