La Liga: Chukwueze nets as Griezmann’s brace takes Barca level With Madrid
Samuel Chukwueze netted for Villarreal as FC Barcelona kept their LaLiga title hopes alive after rallying from behind to claim 2-1 win over ten-man Yellow Submarine on Sunday afternoon
Barca manager Ronald Koeman made only change from the thrashing of Getafe, as Sergino Dest started ahead of Sergi Roberto at right wing-back.
The visitors were on the front foot in the opening exchanges and should have been ahead in the 16th minute after a cross by Jordi Alba towards the far post needed just a tap-in but Frenkie de Jong somehow hit the woodwork and goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo cleared the ball off the line.
Villarreal hit Blaugrana to great effect on a counter-attack in the 26th minute, as Samuel Chukwueze went through on goal from Pau Torres’ pass, rounded goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and fired a strike into an empty net, from a tight angle.
Antoine Griezmann quickly levelled matters for Koeman’s charges two minutes after going through from Oscar Mingueza’s through ball and chipped a strike over Asenjo, who was out of his area, 1-1.
Griezmann gave Barca a 2-1 lead with ten minutes remaining of the first stanza after intercepting a back pass from Juan Foyth towards Asenjo and hit it first-time into the gaping net and the Catalan giants held on to the lead heading to the break.
Blaugrana had a slow start to the second stanza but they got a numerical advantage in the 65th minute after Manu Trigueros of Villarreal got a straight red card for a nasty challenge on Lionel Messi’s shin and the Yellow Submarine had to play the last 25 minutes with ten men.
Thankfully, Messi got back to his feet and Villarreal were taking the game to Barca, as Unai Emery made an attacking change, with Moi Gomez replacing the defensive Etienne Capoue in midfield.
De Jong almost killed off the game with the third goal for Barcelona in the last seven minutes with a chip over Asenjo that bounced over the bar but Koeman’s men held on to a 2-1 win that saw them go equal on points with second-placed Real Madrid, in third place due to an inferior head-to-head record and two points behind leaders Atletico.