BARCELONA: Robert Lewandowski’s penalty deep into added time earned Barcelona a fortunate 2-1 win at Celta Vigo in La Liga on Saturday ahead of their Champions League game at Napoli.

It was another uninspired performance by Barc­elona until a moment of brilliance from Lewan­dowski gave the visitors the lead just before halftime.

Winger Lamine Yamal found the Polish forward on the edge of the box and he made space with the outside of his boot to fire a bullet strike past goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Rafa Benitez’s side fought back to level in the 47th minute when Iago Aspas netted a deflected strike past keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The match grew in tension with the raucous Galician stadium roaring support for their team who had suffered five losses in their last six games in all competitions and managed only four wins in 26 league games this season.

Celta were pushing for victory with Aspas missing three clear chances before defender Fran Beltran made a bad mistake, missing the ball completely in a clearance attempt and hitting Yamal’s leg in the 93rd minute to give Lewandowski his chance seven minutes into stoppage time.

Vicente Guaita saved his first effort, but the VAR check showed the keeper was in front of the goalline before the ball left the spot and Lewandowski tucked away his second effort.

Xavi Hernandez’s side are third in the standings on 54 points, two behind Girona and seven adrift of leaders Real Madrid, both of whom have a game in hand.

“In the second half we didn’t play well. They were lucky in their goal, but we did little offensively. If you want to win a game 2-0 or 3-0, you can’t just play for 45 minutes,” Lewandowski told DAZN.

Celta sit three points above the relegation zone after Cadiz, 18th, lost 2-0 at Osasuna earlier on.

Earlier, Atletico Madrid, fourth, hammered Las Palmas 5-0 despite resting key forward Antoine Griezmann.

Marcos Llorente and Angel Correa struck twice each and Memphis Depay was also on target as Diego Simeone’s side strolled to victory.

Without the injured Alvaro Morata, Atletico lined up with Correa and Llorente up front and it worked perfectly against Las Palmas, ninth.

Elsewhere, Valencia, eighth, dominated Sevilla but could not find the breakthrough in a 0-0 draw.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2024

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