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LaLiga: Barcelona grind out win against Las Palmas despite early frustrations

Barcelona kept their La Liga title hopes alive with a narrow 1-0 victory over Las Palmas, extending their unbeaten streak to 11 games in all competitions since manager Xavi announced his departure at season’s end.

Robert Lewandowski, fresh off leading Poland to Euro 2024 qualification, wasted no time making his presence felt. He found the net within five minutes, but his joy was short-lived as the goal was disallowed for offside. The Polish striker continued to threaten, forcing a smart save from Las Palmas goalkeeper Álvaro Valles with a shot on his right foot.

Disaster struck for Las Palmas just past the 15-minute mark. Valles recklessly challenged Raphinha outside the box, earning a straight red card and leaving his team a man down for the rest of the match. Substitute goalkeeper Aarón Escandell, making his La Liga debut, was immediately tested by Lewandowski’s powerful header that rattled the crossbar.

Xavi reacted swiftly in the second half, introducing João Félix in search of a breakthrough. The substitution proved to be a game-changer. Within five minutes, Félix delivered a pinpoint cross that found Raphinha unmarked in the box. The Brazilian forward rose highest and headed the ball past the helpless Escandell for the game’s only goal.

Félix nearly doubled Barcelona’s lead in the 78th minute with a glorious chance that struck the woodwork. Despite the scare, Barcelona held on to secure the vital three points. This win puts them back in the title race, just five points behind league leaders Real Madrid. Las Palmas, on the other hand, slumped to their third consecutive defeat and remain in 12th place.

Man of the Match: Raphinha (Barcelona) (Raphinha’s well-taken header proved to be the difference maker for Barcelona.)

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