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Barcelona Steal Points with Late Penalty in Thrilling Gran Canaria Encounter

Las Palmas’ dream of dethroning the giants turned into dust in the dying moments of a gripping La Liga encounter, as Barcelona snatched a 2-1 victory thanks to a stoppage-time penalty from İlkay Gündoğan.

February 1986 remains the last time the Yellows tasted victory over the Catalan giants in the top flight, and despite a spirited first-half performance, history repeated itself at the Estadio de Gran Canaria.

Barca, plagued by defensive woes throughout 2023, picked up where they left off in their 2024 opener. Conceding more La Liga goals this season than the entirety of the last campaign, it came as little surprise when Las Palmas struck first. Former Barca forward Sandro Ramírez set up ex-La Masia star Munir El Haddadi, who tapped home to send the home crowd into euphoria.

Instead of reigniting the visitors, Las Palmas pressed for a second. Javier Muñoz unleashed a thunderbolt from distance, but Iñaki Peña kept Barca in the game. Sandro’s follow-up rattled the post, leaving Barca grateful for the half-time whistle.

Whatever Xavi said in the dressing room seemed to work, as Raphinha curled a shot inches wide minutes after the restart. The pressure mounted on the Las Palmas goal, and the equalizer arrived moments later thanks to a fortuitous ricochet that fell to Ferran Torres.

Instead of pushing for a winner, Barca surprisingly went quiet. Xavi even took the unusual step of substituting Robert Lewandowski as the clock ticked down. Debutant Vitor Roque almost justified the decision, but Álvaro Valles denied him.

Valles could do nothing to prevent the late drama, though. Daley Sinkgraven’s reckless challenge on Gündoğan in the box resulted in a red card and a penalty. The German calmly converted, putting Barca back within striking distance of the La Liga leaders.

Despite Las Palmas’ valiant effort, fortune ultimately favored the Catalans. The final whistle left a bittersweet taste in the Yellows’ mouths, while Xavi will be breathing a sigh of relief after escaping with all three points.

Man of the Match: Sergi Cardona (Las Palmas)

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