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Suárez sends Espanyol down as Barca keep title race alive

Suárez sends Espanyol down as Barca keep title race alive

A Luis Suárez strike was enough to seal a narrow victory for Barcelona and condemn Espanyol to the Segunda División. VAR once again was present as both sides had a player sent off.

Barcelona cut Real Madrid's lead at the top to one point with Los Blancos in action at home to Alavés on Friday. Espanyol's 26-year spell in the Spanish top flight has come to an end at the hands of their noisy neighbours.

Espanyol knew that they had to win to have any chance of doing the impossible and prolonging their Primera División stay. They came close in the 15th minute when Ter Stegen saved well from a shot inside the box.

Barca also knew they had to win to keep their La Liga title hopes intact and their best chances in the first half came when Messi's free-kick was tipped over and then Suárez's shot was deflected wide.

Espanyol could have gone in front right on the stroke of half-time when Lenglet almost turned into his own net, with Dídac hitting the rebound off the post. A sigh of relief for Setién's men.

The Barcelona boss then brought on the young Ansu Fati as they tried to get that crucial goal, but within minutes of entering the field of play, the youngster found himself with the first red card of his career.

Fati was originally cautioned for a bad challenge on Calero, but after a quick check on the VAR monitor, the referee changed it for a red and the hosts were down to 10. Espanyol were presented with a golden opportunity to get their first Camp Nou league win since 2009.

However, the visitors were also down to ten moments later in an almost carbon copy of the Fati incident minutes earlier. Lozano was initially booked for a foul on Piqué but the referee gave the player his marching orders after checking the monitor.

Both teams were again on a level playing field and the host went in front in the 56th minute.

After a lovely backheel from Griezmann, Messi's shot was blocked and the ball was set up on a plate for Suárez to continue his fine goalscoring form.

Espanyol now needed two goals to survive the drop but almost found themselves two down when Messi's volley was saved beautifully from Diego López.

De Tomás had an effort saved in injury time with Bernardo heading over as Espanyol were condemned to relegation by their eternal rivals.

 

Aidan Shearer

Aidan Shearer

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