Sat | Jun 23, 2018

Dembele returns for Barcelona in 1-1 Cup draw

Published:Friday | January 5, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP):

Ousmane Dembele made his return from a long injury layoff as a second-half substitute in Barcelona's 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey yesterday.

The 20-year-old France forward ruptured a thigh tendon in his left leg on September 16 in his third appearance with the team after his transfer set a record for the Spanish club.

His move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer could potentially cost nearly €150 million (US$180 million) as Barcelona seek to fill the void in their attack left by Neymar after he forced his exit to Paris Saint-Germain.

Dembele went on in the 72nd minute for reserve team striker Jose Arnaiz, who opened the scoring. Dembele took over as Barcelona's centre forward, but offered little more than a shot that drew a save from goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez in the 78th.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde fielded a starting 11 with few regular starters, allowing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Andres Iniesta to have extra rest, tacked on to the end of the short winter break.

Arnaiz struck for Barcelona in the 15th minute when he drilled in a low cross from Andre Gomes, who started the counterattack by recovering possession. It was the 22-year-old Arnaiz's third goal in three cup matches this season for Barcelona.

Celta forward Pione Sisto levelled in the 31st, after a long team buildup that appeared to have finished in a shot by Iago Aspas that hit the post. But the ball ricocheted off the woodwork and the leg of goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen before falling to Sisto, who fired it over the goalkeeper from a tight angle.