La Liga

FC Barcelona 3-2 Celta Vigo: Joao Cancelo’s late stunner seals remontada for Barca, as the Catalans score three goals in last nine minutes

FC Barcelona has once again proved their mettle and showed their class in games of comeback when they defeated sturdy rivals Celta Vigo in a classy ‘remontada’ victory, last night at Estadi Lluis Olimpic Companys. After being 0-2 down on the 80th minute, Robert Lewandowski and new recruit Joao Cancelo combined to complete a remarkable turnaround of 3-2 in Xavi’s favor, as the Catalans reach the top of the table.

Late-night heroics from Barca

FC Barcelona have proved themselves once again in crunch fixtures as they stamped their authority in being called the undisputed comeback kings. They have treated fans with their heroics number of times, with the most famous being a 6-1 victory against French giants PSG in UEFA Champions League eight years ago, after being down to 0-4 from the first leg at Parc des Princes. But, this season, they are slowly showcasing their talent while going one or two goals down, as last night was the second instance where Barcelona secured an incredible comeback victory, this season, after a 4-3 victory against Villareal, while being down to 2-3. Last night, although it was an uphill task for the Catalans to vouch for victory when you are 0-2 down, with ten minutes remaining on the clock, but one cannot sleep out on this Barca squad, which comprises the reigning Pichichi winner Lewandowski and new recruits like Joao Cancelo, who combined to give a 3-2 lead within nine minutes, thus turning the game in their favor.

Barcelona have been one of the strongest and consistent teams in Europe this season, as they are coming on the back of two miraculous 5-0 victories against Betis and UCL debutants Royal Antwerp FC. With a tremendous workload on the back, Xavi had decided to rest and rotate his staff as they will be playing several games within the coming weeks. He started with his usual 4-3-3 formation, resting some big names like Gavi, Yamal. Barca fielded veteran Alonso in the line-up, who was well complemented by Kounde, Christensen on the central defense and latest star recruit from Manchester City Joao Cancelo. The midfield comprised the seasoned trio of Gundogan, De Jong and Romeu, with the attacking line-up having Lewandowski spearheading the attack, flanked by Felix and Ferran Torres.

For Celta, master tactician Rafa Benitez opted for a 5-3-2 formation, with former Barca right-back Oscar Mingueza starting against his former club, as their attack comprised seasoned Iago Aspas and Larsen.

Strand-Larsen stuns Olimpic Stadium

Celta Vigo and Barcelona players were giving their all on the pitch, with both teams not agreeing to give space to their opponents. Although the Catalans were focused on keeping the ball to themselves, they were unable to penetrate Celta defense as their five-man defensive block was enough to keep the Barca strikers at bay. Marcos Alonso was often seen up the field, as he was teaming up with Felix and Cancelo to move the ball forward, but could not make any inroads.

However, early in the game, Barca’s seasoned midfield stalwart De Jong was taken off the field, indicating a possible injury, thus replaced by the prodigal Gavi. Matters got worse for Xavi’s men when they went 0-1 down, thanks to a Norwegian strike from the man-mountain, Strand-Larsen, after De La Torre snooped the ball past a tackling Joules Kounde to Larsen, as the 23-year old Nordic completed the lead with a classy bottom finish, thus going 1-0 up on the 19th minute.

With 1-0 up at half-time, Xavi was forced to make several changes to the squad as recuperating Araujo, the Uruguayan wall was introduced in the field to bolster the faltering defense line, as the La Liga champions switched to a 3-4-3 formation, with Lamine the new name to accompany Lewa at the center. But, it was of no use as Celta scored one more, as newly introduced Douvikas found the back of the net, courtesy an Iago Aspas assist, thus Benitez’s side almost winning the game with 15 minutes left on the clock. Aspas and Larsen were taken off the field, little did they knew what was in store for them in the next 15 minutes.

A miraculous remontada

Barcelona, with 0-2 down, had to make certain changes in the squad, as Balde replaced Christensen, as the La Masia prodigy, who has recently signed a long-term contract with the Catalans till 2028, was expected to make some inroads with his lightening pace along the wings. Finally, with Raphinha on the ground, Barcelona got their first shot at goal, when their latest star recruit Joao Felix, who is enjoying a superb week at the Estadi Olimpic, provided a lovely ball to the Polish striker Lewandowski, and the reigning Pichichi holder was swift enough to regain his posture ahead of the goal, thus slotting the ball past Celta custodian Ivan Villar. Thus, on the 81st minute, Barcelona got a glimpse of their talent and a smell of their exuberant spirit of remontada.

Lewa scores, again

With 1-2 after 84 minutes and all of Estadi Olimpic finally getting into a groove of supporting their favorite team, Lewandowski scored one more goal to restore the parity at 2-2, when the clock struck 85 minutes. This time, it was Barca’s another Joao, the former Manchester City right back Joao Cancelo who was instrumental in assisting Lewa with his second of the night. Brazilian winger Raphinha found out Cancelo’s position on the front, as he played a beautiful pass to the Portuguese, who swung in his assist to the Polish, who was waiting in front of the goal at a perfect position to score his second, thus levelling the score line by 2-2.

Cancelo scores the winner

Barcelona’s latest recruits, the two Joao brothers, Felix and Cancelo are creating magic since the day they got on the field. Starting from last week’s 5-0 rout of Real Betis, to last night’s 3-2 victory against Celta, these two have been instrumental in creating chances and scoring goals, when it comes to save the side from humiliation. Last week, it was Felix who scored a brace in his UCL debut for Barca, and last night, it was Cancelo, who scored a stunner to seal the deal for Barcelona.

Gavi, the prodigal son of Barca who perfectly emulates La Masia blood by literally fighting for every ball, was instrumental in the last goal, as he spotted Cancelo in his run-in from the deep, as he assisted him with a lovely cross before Cancelo volleyed it past Celta keeper Villar, thus sealing the deal for Barcelona at the death, on the 89th minute, leaving little for Celta to take out from the game, after their hara-kiri approach of taking off Aspas and Larsen had paid the price of conceding three goals in a space of nine minutes.

Barca, on the other hand, rallied to the top position with 16 points from 6 games, and leading Girona on a solitary goal difference, as Real Madrid will look to reclaim the top spot after they face Atletico De Madrid today. Xavi’s brigade will look up to a mid-week fixture when they visit Mallorca, as their Joao-Joao combo continues their remarkable performances.

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