Xavi Hernández’s revitalized Barça has moved into the top three in LaLiga with 48 points, overtaking Betis in third place.
Barcelona fought back to earn a 2-1 win in a frantically entertaining match at Elche on Sunday, as a late Memphis Depay penalty ensured they continued their recovery after a rocky start to the season.
Having slipped to ninth place in November when former manager Ronald Koeman was sacked, Xavi Hernandez’s revitalized Barça have moved into the top three of LaLiga with 48 points, overtaking Betis in third place.
Mid-table Elche opened the scoring just before half-time when Pedri attempted to clear the ball but gifted a perfect assist to Fidel Chavez, who edged past Dani Alves and scored with an angled shot just inside the post. right.
Ferran Torres scored the equalizer in the 61st minute after a great play by Ousmane Dembele down the right wing. His cross was deflected by Jordi Alba and the former Manchester City striker, in the right place and at the right time, finished it off from close range.
The next 20 minutes were hectic, with both teams creating goalscoring opportunities that were denied by goalkeepers Marc Andre ter Stegen and Edgar Badia.
Badia made three magnificent saves with powerful close-range shots from Torres, while Ter Stegen saved Barcelona late when he dived to save a Pere Milla shot that went into the right corner with the tip of his finger.
Barça’s winning goal came after the video assistant referee detected a handball from an Elche defender inside the area in the 84th minute and Depay nailed his penalty into the upper left corner.
VAR was put to work twice more after that, as Elche were controversially denied two penalties following handball appeals against Barca players.
“You can always talk about handball inside the box,” Ter Stegen told reporters.
“Players can’t take their arms off their body inside the box. I think the referee made the right decisions.”
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