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Football

Barcelona held by Deportivo Alaves days after sacking Koeman

Barcelona forward Memphis Depay. | PHOTO: Getty Images |

Barcelona’s woes continued on Saturday 30, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou in their first game since the sacking of manager Ronald Koeman.

Under the temporary management of former player and Barcelona youth side head coach Sergi Barjuan, Memphis Depay opened the scoring early in the second half as the hosts sought to overcome consecutive La Liga losses to Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano consecutively.

But the Catalans were given an answer almost immediately as Luis Rioja netted a fine equalizer for the visitors.

Jordi Alba

Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba was frustrated after the final whistle as Barcelona played out a 1-1 draw with Deportivo Alaves in a La Liga clash. | PHOTO: Getty Images |

Another concern for Barca saw a distressed Sergio Aguero forced off before half-time on his first home LaLiga start in what has been referred to as some sort of Cardiac concern.

Barcelona had won eight of their nine previous meetings with Alaves and quickly stamped their authority in possession.

They went close to breaking the deadlock when Eric Garcia’s header was brilliantly clawed away by Antonio Sivera, while an unmarked Edgar Mendez nodded Ruben Duarte’s deep free-kick just wide at the other end.

Concerns grew for the hosts when Aguero was forced to leave the field before the break.

The Argentina international went down clutching his chest and appeared to be in some discomfort when tended to by the medical team, but was able to get to his feet and walk from the field.

Nevertheless, Barca took the lead in emphatic fashion four minutes after the restart; Depay bending a tremendous 25-yard effort into the far corner for his fifth goal of the season.

Barcelona 1-1 Alaves

Barcelona players celebrate after Memphis Depay scored the opener against Deortivo Alaves in a La Liga meeting on Saturday, 30. | PHOTO: Getty Images |

However, the visitors responded just within three minutes; Rioja playing a neat one-two with Joselu before rounding Marc-Andre ter Stegen and slotting into the empty net.

Barca looked to restore their advantage and Sivera produced smart saves to deny Philippe Coutinho and Depay, who also hit the post following a wonderful individual run by Gavi.

But despite dominating possession, the hosts were forced to settle for a share of the spoils. They had just under 80 percent of possession and 16 shots on goal, but Barcelona were unable to turn their dominance into a victory.

They have won only once in their last five league matches, while their stubborn opponents are now unbeaten in three after just about managing to hang on at Camp Nou.

Memphis Depay’s goal may not have been enough for Barca, but it was a staggering goal from the Dutchman.

But for the woodwork and a couple of smart saves, the Netherlands international could have been going home with the match ball.

Indeed, he led the way for the hosts with four shots, three key passes, and 11 crosses, so plenty of positives from his perspective despite the result. Although Barca dominated play, Gerard Pique endured a difficult day in the heart of the defense.

The former Spain international was beaten far too easily for Alaves’ equalizer, while he won just a third of his duels. To worsen things, an injury forced him off with 20 minutes remaining and he will hope it is nothing too serious.

Barcelona will look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Alaves will seek to gather all the three points against Levante next weekend.

Nathan Sialah is a journalist by profession with interest in politics, sports, cryptocurrency and human interests with 5 years experience in Radio and Digital Journalism. This has helped Sialah develop a responsible approach to any task he undertakes or any situation that he is presented with.

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