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Messi-Less Barca Climb To Third Spot


Result: Elche 0-2 FC Barcelona

Date: 24 January 2021

Venue: Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero

FC Barcelona, who were without Lionel Messi, moved into third place on the LaLiga standings with a 2-0 victory away at Elche on Sunday.

Barca were still without Lionel Messi as he served the final game of his two-match suspension following his dismissal against Athletic Bilbao. Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba, Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele came into the Barca side as Ronald Koeman made seven changes.

With five minutes gone, Dembele whipped in a corner to the near post and Ronald Araujo stooped to head it wide. Soon after, Dembele's free-kick was met by Antoine Griezmann on the penalty spot, but the header was straight at Edgar Badia.

Elche almost took a surprise lead in the 19th minute. Johan Mojica clipped a ball into the box, Raul Guti ghosted in between two defenders but flicked his header off the bar.

On the half-hour mark, Barca won a corner which the hosts cleared but it dropped to the edge of the area for Jordi Alba to strike wide with a first-time effort.

The Blaugrana took the lead with five minutes to go before half-time. A cross came in from the left from Martin Braithwaite, it looked like Griezmann was getting on the end of it but Elche defender Diego Gonzalez stuck a leg out and diverted the ball towards his own net with De Jong on hand to score a simple tap-in.

Ten minutes after the interval, the visitors gave the ball away setting Emiliano Rigona free on goal, but the left-footed strike was brilliantly kept out by Ter Stegen.

At the other end, Dembele worked a yard on the edge of the area but his thumping strike was kept out by Edgar Badia.

In the 83rd minute, Busquets played Trincao in behind the Elche defence down the right flank. He cut inside to shoot on his left foot, but Edgar Badia produced a fine stop to palm the ball away from goal.

Riqui Puig replaced Pedri for the closing stages of the contest and immediately made an impact, netting in the 89th minute after De Jong clipped a cross to the back post which the youngster nodded home.

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