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Girona edge Barcelona to go top of La Liga

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Barcelona 2-4 Girona - La Liga
Girona players celebrating a goal in the match against Barcelona. | PHOTO: DailySport |
  •  Barcelona hosted Girona in a Sunday evening top-of-the-table La Liga clash
  • Either side needed a win to keep their title charge alive with Real Madrid and Atletico closing in
  • Despite going 2-0 down, Girona scored four to complete a comeback and go top of La Liga

In a dramatic turn of events, Girona orchestrated a stunning upset against their Catalan rivals Barcelona, securing a 4-2 victory at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys and reclaiming the top spot in LaLiga. The triumph proved pivotal, as Real Madrid, their closest competitors, were held to a draw by Real Betis. Michel’s tactically astute side seized the opportunity with a dazzling display, establishing a two-point lead over Real Madrid and leaving Barcelona trailing by a considerable seven-point margin.

The tone for Girona’s impressive performance was set in the 12th minute when Viktor Tsygankov executed a well-timed run down the right, delivering a precise cross to Artem Dovbyk. The Ukrainian striker, in turn, calmly slotted the ball past the goalkeeper off the far post, giving Girona an early lead. Barcelona responded promptly, with Raphinha testing Girona’s goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, but it was Robert Lewandowski who leveled the score with a clinical header from a corner in the 19th minute.

Despite Barcelona’s possession dominance, Girona remained dangerous on the counter-attack. Left-back Miguel Gutierrez showcased his attacking prowess, flashing a drive across the goal just wide of the post. Joao Cancelo’s attempt to penetrate Girona’s defense was met with a solid block from Gazzaniga at the near post. However, moments before halftime, Gutierrez unleashed a fierce 18-yard drive after a surging run down the left, restoring Girona’s lead and setting the stage for an intense second half.

READ: Inside Barcelona plans to replace injured Gavi

Barcelona emerged for the second half with renewed vigor, as Frenkie De Jong and Ilkay Gundogan tested Gazzaniga with low drives from the edge of the penalty area. The hosts continued to search for an equalizer, with Germany midfielder Gundogan cutting a shot across goal, narrowly missing the target. Despite Barcelona’s offensive efforts, Girona delivered a decisive blow with a third goal, as substitute Valery capitalized on a long drop kick from Gazzaniga, slotting it past Barcelona’s goalkeeper with ten minutes left on the clock.

Barcelona 2-4 Girona: La Liga

Girona players celebrate after scoring the third against Barcelona in a La Liga clash at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys on Sunday, December 10 2023. | PHOTO: MARCA |

Even with an opportunity to add a fourth, Savio’s shot was directed straight at Barcelona goalkeeper Pena, striking him in the face from point-blank range. Barcelona managed to pull one back in stoppage time, courtesy of Gundogan, but Girona had the last word. Lewandowski’s headed attempt went wide, and Cristhian Stuani secured Girona’s memorable victory by knocking in the fourth goal at the far post following a free-kick into the box.

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Girona’s 13th league win of the season showcased their ability to capitalize on counter-attacks, with Tsygankov’s precision and Dovbyk’s clinical finishing proving instrumental. Barcelona, despite maintaining possession, struggled to break down Girona’s resilient defense, with Gazzaniga’s crucial saves preserving the lead.

Miguel Gutierrez’s contributions from the left-back position were not limited to defense; his attacking flair and the crucial goal before halftime demonstrated Girona’s well-rounded capabilities. The match highlighted the effectiveness of Girona’s defensive strategy, frustrating Barcelona’s attacking endeavors while exploiting opportunities on the counter.

The impact of substitutes was evident in Girona’s success, with Stuani and Valery combining effectively to secure the third goal. Valery’s clinical finish underscored Girona’s depth and their ability to leverage the strength of their bench.

In conclusion, Girona’s victory not only propelled them to the summit of LaLiga but also underscored their tactical prowess, defensive resilience, and efficiency in capitalizing on counter-attacks. The result leaves Barcelona facing a significant gap in the title race, setting the stage for a captivating and closely contested remainder of the season.

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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