Espanyol vs. Barcelona score: Barca salvage point thanks to Luuk de Jong’s late goal

A week removed from a massive step forward in La Liga, Barcelona have now taken a step back, needing lady luck to control the damage. After beating Atletico Madrid last weekend to jump into the top four and boost their chances of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, Barcelona could not build off it, drawing city rival Espanyol on Sunday, 2-2. 

Barca had positioned themselves well to potentially finish in the top four, and that possibility certainly still remains, but Sunday’s draw showed just more of the glaring issues the club is facing as it continues to struggle to find its identity after Lionel Messi’s departure in the summer. Xavi’s men were fortunate to get anything out of this match, needing a last-gasp equalizer from striker Luuk de Jong to rescue a point. 

Barca took the lead two minutes in thanks to Pedri, but they did little else the rest of the way despite having most of the possession. Their recent momentum looked set to evaporate before their Europa League round of 32 showdown with Napoli on Thursday, but they managed to salvage some of it. 

Former Spain u21 talent Sergi Darder stole the show for Espanyol, recording a fantastic equalizer before setting up striker Raul de Tomas with this exquisite through ball, exposing young centerback Ronald Araujo in the process, giving the underdogs a 2-1 lead.

But it was Adama Traore’s late cross that found the head of de Jong in sixth minute of added time, with the Dutchman finishing despite having three defenders around him.

Barca have now gone eight league games unbeaten, but despite looking to have been turning the corner a bit under Xavi, this did not offer much to be excited about. While the Copa del Rey exit last month to Athletic Bilbao was a low moment of the season, Barca were going for their third straight league win here and looked ready thanks to the hot start. But a predictable team with new attackers who have yet to gel showed once again how far they have to go before becoming fas reliable as Barca of old.

To make matters worse, centerback Gerard Pique was sent off in added time for pulling the hair of his opponent as a reaction to a poor challenge.

On paper, it’s a poor result for Barca, but it is one they will take considering the loss looked certain in the final moments.

Next, Barca host Napoli on Thursday in the Europa League on Paramount+.

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