× Sports Football Rugby Olympics Volleyball and Handball Cricket Boxing Golf Hockey Tennis Gossip & Rumours World Cup 2018 Basketball Athletics Sports Premier League Eliud Kipchoge Women in Sports Unique Sports Opinion Motorsport Videos Podcasts E-Paper Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman Travelog TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS

Depay penalty gives Barca win over Espanyol on Xavi's debut

FOOTBALL By Reuters | November 21st 2021
November 20, 2021 Espanyol's Diego Lopez fouls FC Barcelona's Memphis Depay to concede a penalty REUTERS

Barcelona fans finally had a reason to celebrate again as their team played arguably their best game of the season to earn a much-needed 1-0 home win over local rivals Espanyol in LaLiga on their new head coach Xavi Hernandez's debut on Saturday.

Xavi probably could not have asked for much more in his first game managing a struggling Barca team who are sixth in the standings, eight points behind leaders Sevilla.

It was a dominating performance despite the scoreline and it happened in front of an almost sold-out Camp Nou that exuded hope and excitement for the first time in a long while.

After dominating the first half it took 40 seconds after the break for Barcelona to get a penalty. Gavi played a brilliant through pass to Memphis Depay who was caught by a sliding tackle from Leandro Cabrera. The Dutchman got up to net the spot kick.

"In general, I'm happy with the win and with the attitude," Xavi told a news conference. "We can get better in many ways but I think we deserved the win to start this new project."

The general optimism on the city's streets following Xavi’s arrival was reflected inside the stadium. The 74,418 fans who turned up awoke a sleeping giant of a stadium that had been recording low attendances this season due to side's bad results.

Xavi’s Barca played well and the supporters responded like it was the beginning of a new era. The third generation in a succession line that started with Johan Cruyff, continued with Pep Guardiola and finally has a faithful servant in Xavi.

Barca's style of possession with authority was back.

Early in the game, 17-year-old debutant Ilias Akhomach skied a fine chance inside the six-yard box from a low cross by fellow teenager Gavi after a fine combination of passes. But it was a collective effort that had classic Barca written all over it.

The hosts were comfortable in control of the ball, with over 70% of possession, cornering Espanyol who had no answers except to defend with a five men deep in a defensive line.

Depay's opener saw the fans explode with joy and Barcelona could have score more goals with a little bit of luck.

As they relaxed towards the end Espanyol had chances to equalise through Raul de Tomas, who twice hit the post. But the hosts held on for a first win in their last five league games.

Share this story
Arteta reacts to Arsenal's 4-0 defeat to Liverpool
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said his side need to channel their energy into learning from their mistakes after Saturday's 4-0 Premier League defeat a
Where is Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai? She has not been seen in public for 18 days
Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has been staying at home "freely" and will make a public appearance "soon", Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, a