Barcelona needed a late goal from Frenkie de Jong to overcome Alaves in La Liga on Sunday, while Real Madrid gave their title rivals hope by drawing 2-2 at home to Elche. De Jong’s 87th-minute goal at Mendizorrotza was the highlight of an uninspiring performance from Barca, but it also secured a crucial 1-0 victory as they tried to catch the top four. “When we lost to Real Madrid in the Super Cup we left satisfied with the game but we didn’t win. This time we’re not satisfied with the game but the three points are golden”, said Xavi Hernández.
Barcelona move up to fifth place, with Atletico Madrid still a point ahead in fourth. The two teams will meet at the Camp Nou on February 6.
“We are in the fight and these results will come in handy”, said Xavi.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, squandered an opportunity to take six points from Sevilla when Karim Benzema missed a penalty and then left injured at the Santiago Bernabéu.
It could have been worse for Madrid, who were two down with 11 minutes remaining and managed to salvage a point thanks to a Luka Modric penalty and a 92nd-minute header from Eder Militao.
Lucas Boye and Pere Milla had put Elche in sight of a shocking victory.
But two points lost against a team struggling to survive this season will have been a welcome bonus for Sevilla, who expected to be punished for their own draw at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday.
“The match was a bit all over the place,” Real manager Carlo Ancelotti said.
“We lost two points, so we can’t be happy, but in general now we have a break and we are in a good position. We are in the Copa del Rey, the Champions League and we have a good position in the league.” .”
Benzema’s injury is perhaps the biggest concern. The Frenchman was clutching his left hamstring as he walked through the tunnel in the second half and Ancelotti said he would undergo tests on Monday.
Madrid will hope it’s nothing serious, with just over three weeks to go before the Champions League first leg against Paris Saint-Germain.
Eden Hazard was given his own chance after Ancelotti gave him an unusual start and although the Belgian was undoubtedly one of Madrid’s most creative players, he left in the 79th minute, just before the revival of Madrid began. his team.
Before the start of the game, all the Madrid players came out wearing the number 11 shirt in tribute to Paco Gento, who died this Tuesday at the age of 88. On display were Gento’s 12 league trophies and six European Cups.
Real Madrid did enough to create a handful of chances in the first half, but were generally lethargic, with sloppy passing and lacking the sharpness of their recent performances.
Still, it looked like it would be enough when Vinicius Junior was brought down by Helibelton Palacios in the 33rd minute and the referee signaled for the penalty. However, the generally reliable Benzema burned.
The lady galvanized Elche, who had defended with determination and then gave herself something to defend.
Yohan Mojica sent a ball down the left for Fidel to run, and he crossed into the area where Boye was left free to head.
Elche did not worry too much and in the 76th minute they made two, with the excellent Boye turning away from David Alaba and switching to the right to Milla, who finished in the far corner.
Madrid looked on their feet but in minute 82 they were handed a lifeline, as a header from Alaba hit Milla in the hand and, in the absence of Benzema, Modric scored the penalty.
The moment of the tie arrived and in minute 92 it came, when Vinicius recovered an off-line pass and crossed for Militao, who headed it. With two minutes to go, Madrid wanted the winning goal but time ran out.
Barcelona also came out late and could have been left behind had Pere Pons not let a tame shot float into the hands of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the first half.
Luuk de Jong came through for Barca but took too long and then Alaves’ Joselu headed wide at the front post, with the game apparently headed for a deadlock.
But Barça found a way with three minutes to go, Jordi Alba cutting off a delicious pass from above for Ferran Torres, who showed the composure to touch the left, where De Jong had an easy shot.