Barcelona end poor run, Madrid held by Elche
Barcelona finally got things going their way, finding a late goal to end their winless run and go into the international break on a positive note.
Barcelona struggled again but Frenkie de Jong scored in the 87th minute to salvage a 1-0 victory at relegation-threatened Alavés in the Spanish league yesterday, snapping a three-match winless streak that included elimination from the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup.
The win moved the Catalan club one point behind fourth-place Atlético Madrid in the final Champions League spot, and 15 points behind league leaders Real Madrid, with a game in hand.
Madrid needed a stoppage-time goal by Éder Militão to secure a 2-2 home draw against Elche. Madrid have a four-point advantage over Sevilla at the top after a tough day for Karim Benzema, who missed a penalty kick and later had to be replaced because of an injury.
Barcelona had won only twice in their last 10 away matches in the league, and they are coming off a draw at Granada when they conceded in the 89th. They then lost to Madrid in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup, and to Athletic Bilbao in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey.
Alavés are winless in their last 10 league matches, sitting in second-to-last place.
BENZEMA’S TOUGH DAY
Benzema’s struggles began when he missed an opportunity from close range with only the goalkeeper to beat inside the area in the first half. Moments later, he had another chance to give his team the lead from the penalty spot, but the France striker sent his shot way over the crossbar.
To cap an unusually frustrating day, Madrid’s top scorer had to leave the match in the 58th because of an apparent muscle injury. He grabbed the back of his left leg as he headed for the locker rooms. There was no immediate news on the seriousness of the injury.
Lucas Boyé and Pere Milla scored a goal in each half to give Elche a 2-0 lead, but Madrid pulled closer with Luka Modric’s penalty kick in the 82nd and evened the match with Militão’s firm header off a cross by Vinícius Júnior.
Madrid had beaten Elche 2-1 in extra time on Thursday to advance to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. Eden Hazard, who scored the winner in extra time, returned to the starting line-up Sunday after failing to earn many minutes because of a series of injuries.
Sixth-place Real Sociedad were held by Getafe to a 0-0 draw at home, while midtable Osasuna won 2-0 at Granada to end their 10-match winless streak in the league.