Barça Rally To Overcome Rayo Vallecano Scare
Defending champions FC Barcelona shook off a little bit of complacency and their lapses in concentration to earn all three points at Vallecas. Rayo Vallecano were sitting in 19th place before the game against league leaders Barça. This game looked like a smooth sailing one on paper for the Catalans. It even started well as a typical marauding run from Jordi Alba down the left flank with his signature cutback allowed Luis Suarez to slot home. An 11th minute lead for the Spanish champions meant they were on track for a comfortable win. However, this was not the case. Rayo showed tremendous energy and desire after conceding the opener. Over the course of the 90 minutes, one could even argue that the minnows deserved the win.
The small side from Madrid really came into their own after conceding first. They were bossing Barcelona off the ball. Michel’s side showed immense desire to win the ball and get back into the game. They were impressively direct in attack and extremely proactive with their pressing. Every 50-50 challenge and loose ball was going their way. Their persistence eventually paid off. Barça failed to deal with a cross into the box. The ball fell to Pozo who curled a gorgeous effort in off the post for the equalizer. What was impressive is that they still didn’t take their foot off the gas.
12 minutes after halftime, the hosts took a well deserved lead. A poor clearance from Pique allowed Rayo to float in a cross which was headed by Raul de Tomas. It cannoned off the near post and fell kindly for substitute Alvaro Garcia who scored with practically his first touch of the game.
The fans were in full voice and the players in full spirit as well. Barcelona became desperate and now had to start over to try and win the game.
Barça had squandered their early lead. They seemed to lack energy and intent. Although they had much the better squad, they were being completely outworked by Rayo. Since conceding the 2nd goal they seemed lost. The Rayo attacks were not only a testament to their intent, but also Barça’s poor defending. As has been the case quite a few times this season. In fact both of Rayo’s goals stemmed from defensive errors. Finally in the 67th minute, Ernesto Valverde brought on Arturo Vidal and Munir to freshen things up. Ousmane Dembele had come on just a little earlier. Another point of criticism was that Valverde waited too long to make subs. This has been pointed out numerous times.
Eventually, it all fell apart for Rayo. Barça started bossing the ball a lot more again. They pegged Rayo back but the hosts held on stubbornly. That was only until the 87th minute however. Gerard Pique characteristically pushed forward in search of the equalizer and eventually won a flick on inside the box. The ball fell for Dembele who fizzed a terrific half volley into the bottom corner to make it 2-2. Moments later, Barça pushed forward again with real belief. And in the 90th minute a brilliant cross from Sergi Roberto found Luis Suarez at the far post and the Uruguayan striker poked it home to grab all 3 points with his 2nd of the game.
Rayo were heartbroken. The fans were in utter disbelief. But FC Barcelona showed their character once more. They showed why they are champions as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Photo credit to Barcelona via Twitter