Ousmane Dembele scored a 90th minute winner for Barcelona against 10-man Real Valladolid as Ronald Koeman’s side closed the gap on Atletico Madrid to just one point at the top of La Liga.
The Catalans kicked off knowing that a win would move them to within touching distance of top spot in La Liga ahead of Saturday’s Clasico against Real Madrid, but they were made to work hard for it.
Real Valladolid started on top with Kenan Kodro striking the woodwork with a header that had Marc-Andre ter Stegen beaten. Barca also hit the woodwork before half time when Jordi Masip tipped a Pedri shot on to the base of the post.
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Ousmane Dembele had a low effort saved by Masip with Antoine Griezmann heading the rebound wide as Barca cranked up the pressure before Koeman introduced Ronald Araujo, Martin Braithwaite and Francisco Trincao in an attempt to find the breakthrough.
Oscar Plano was shown a straight red card with 10 minutes remaining for a late tackle on Dembele as he burst forward, although the decision was somewhat harsh on the Real Valladolid midfielder.
Despite the man advantage, Barca toiled and just as it looked like Real Valladolid would hold on for a point Dembele lashed home a left-footed volley at the back post from a Frenkie de Jong cross, giving the hosts a dramatic victory.

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TALKING POINT - This could be the biggest two weeks of Barcelona’s season

With three points in the bag from this match, Barcelona can now go top of La Liga with a victory over Real Madrid in Saturday’s Clasico. This would represent the extent to which they have managed to turn their season around, with 13 wins from 14 league games pushing them back into title contention. Then, the following weekend, Koeman’s side will take on Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey final. This could be the start of the biggest two weeks of Barcelona’s whole season.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

This was a laboured performance from Barcelona, but Dembele was the one player who looked to have the energy and drive to make something happen. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise that when the Catalans finally found the breakthrough late on it was Dembele who lashed the finish home. The Frenchman appears to have found his role at Barca as something of a central attacker and this was another demonstration of the threat he can pose in that position.

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PLAYER RATINGS

Barcelona - ter Stegen 6, Mingueza 5, de Jong 7, Lenglet 6, Dest 5, Busquets 5, Pedri 6, Alba 4, Griezmann 6, Messi 6, Dembele 7. Subs - Braithwaite 5, Ilaix 6, Puig 4, Trincao 3, Araujo 6.
Real Valladolid - Masip 8, Janko 6, Sanchez 7, Gonzalez 6, Olaza 6, Plano 5, Alcaraz 5, Mesa 6, Nacho 6, Kodro 8, Guardiola 5. Subs - Hervias 4, Rubio 4, Andre 3.

KEY MOMENTS

9’ Off the crossbar! Inches away from a Real Valladolid goal! Kodro got on the end of a cross into the box from the left wing, his connection was pure and ter Stegen was beaten! It comes off the woodwork!
45+1’ Off the base of the post! Inches away from being the opener for Barcelona! The ball fell nicely for Pedri on the edge of the box, his strike was clean, but Masip tips it on to the woodwork!
62’ Dembele... saved! Griezmann... wide! The Frenchman was played in behind by Messi, his low strike is saved by Masip and Griezmann could only head wide on the rebound! Dembele held his run well!
80’ SENT OFF! Drama as we move into the final 10 minutes of the match as Plano is shown a straight red card for a bad tackle on Dembele, but was that really worthy of a sending off?
90’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Real Valladolid: The breakthrough has been made and Dembele has surely clinched three incredibly valuable points for Barcelona! The cross from de Jong was flicked on by Araujo and the Frenchman fires home the left-footed volley at the back post!

KEY STATS

  • Barcelona have now won six La Liga matches in a row and 13 from their last 14 matches in the division.
  • Barcelona have struck the woodwork 29 times this season, more than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues.
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