PALMA: Youngster Fermin Lopez rescued Barcelona a 2-2 draw at Real Mallorca on Tuesday which extended his team’s La Liga lead, even though the champions dropped two points.
Barcelona came from behind twice to secure a draw, Vedat Muriqi opening the scoring for the hosts early on, before Raphinha pulled them level.
However, Abdon Prats sent Mallorca ahead again and 20-year-old Lopez levelled with a firm drive on his second appearance for the club.
Barca moved up to 17 points but could be overtaken as La Liga leaders by Girona and Real Madrid.
“The game got stuck from the start. We’ve had two games with a bit of a bad feeling and we need to improve. We are giving too many chances,” Barca midfielder Oriol Romeu told DAZN. “The fact that they are counter-attacking so easily makes us run a lot of metres. We need to improve on this.”
The hosts’ early pressure paid off as they took the lead after eight minutes when Muriqi capitalised on a poor clearance from Barca’s keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Raphinha grabbed an equaliser with a powerful shot into the bottom left corner in the 41st minute, only to see Prats restore Mallorca’s lead in stoppage time with a simple finish after keeper Predrag Rajkovic’s superb long clearance and a Muriqi header.
Mallorca took their foot off the gas in the second half and Barca substitute Lopez tapped home Raphinha’s low cross from the right to clinch a point that could prove crucial in the long run.
Earlier Sevilla thumped Almeria 5-1 in one of their best performances under coach Jose Luis Mendilibar. After a poor start to the season, this emphatic victory provisionally raises the Andalusians to mid-table.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2023