Memphis Depay and Philippe Coutinho scored two late goals for Barcelona against Villarreal as Xavi Hernandez made it two wins from two La Liga games as manager.
Samuel Chukwueze’s equaliser looked to have given the Yellow Submarine a share of the points, but Barca hit back with just two minutes left to move within seven points of Real Madrid in top spot.
A testy opening saw Dani Parejo put in a bad tackle on Sergio Busquets after just three minutes that surprisingly wasn’t inspected by the VAR before Arnaut Danjuma failed to make the most of a wayward Eric Garcia backpass.
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Barcelona's Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong (C) celebrates with teammates scoring the opening goal during the Spanish league football match between Villarreal CF and FC Barcelona at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on November 27, 2021. (Photo by JOSE JO

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Gavi clipped the far post with a low strike as Barcelona pressed for an opener, but it was Pau Torres who was presented the best chance of the first half only for the Villarreal defender to head wide while completely unmarked from a corner kick.
Barca took the lead in controversial circumstances three minutes into the second half when a VAR review was used to decide Memphis was onside when the cross from Jordi Alba was played with de Jong following in on the rebound.
Villarreal could have been awarded a penalty kick for a challenge by Garcia on Raul Albiol, but drew level when substitute Chukwueze prodded a finish past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Against the run of play, Memphis made the most of some slack Villarreal defending from a ter Stegen long ball to round the goalkeeper and calmly convert as Barcelona edged ahead.
There was still time for Philippe Coutinho to win a penalty kick following a foul by Juan Foyth with the Brazilian stepping up to finish from 12 yards out and put the final touches on Barcelona’s first away La Liga win of the season.

TALKING POINT - Unai Emery might soon be in trouble as Villarreal manager

Villarreal have endured an underwhelming start to the season with Emery’s side currently slumped in 12th place in La Liga. Last season’s success in qualifying for the Champions League through the Europa League has shielded Emery from any significant criticism, but this could soon change if the Yellow Submarine continue to sink. The former Arsenal manager needs to see improvement from his team and quickly.

Unai Emery bleibt Trainer beim FC Villarreal

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MAN OF THE MATCH - Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

Recent reports have suggested Barcelona might sell de Jong, but on this showing he is one of the last players they should push out of the exit door. The Dutchman pulled the strings for Barca in midfield. His passing got the Catalans in behind numerous times with Memphis’ wastefulness the only reason he didn’t notch an assist. Xavi seemingly wants to push de Jong higher up the pitch and this paid dividends as he scored the opener.

PLAYER RATINGS

Villarreal - Rulli 6, Foyth 4, Albiol 5, Pau Torres 4, Pedraza 6, Capoue 5, Trigueros 7, Parejo 5, Moi Gomez 5, Pino 7, Danjuma 7. Subs - Chukwueze 8, Estupinan 6, Raba 5.
Barcelona - Ter Stegen 7, Pique 5, Araujo 6, Garcia 5, Busquets 6, De Jong 8, Nico 4, Gavi 5, Alba 6, Memphis 6, Abde 7. Subs - Dembele 4, Coutinho 6, Mingueza 4.

KEY MOMENTS

3’ Bad one! Parejo appeared to stamp on the shin of Busquets as the two players challenged for the same ball and the Barcelona midfielder has taken a sore one. Will he be able to continue?
6’ Big chance! That was a real opportunity for Danjuma after a dreadful backpass by Garcia, but his shot is blocked. He took too long to unleash the effort on goal! Ponderous.
33’ Should have scored! Villarreal should be 1-0 up. The marking from Barcelona at the corner kick was dreadful, Torres was completely free six yards out, but he heads over the target!
50’ GOAL! Villarreal 0-1 Barcelona: Controversial, but Barcelona have taken the lead after a very tight VAR call! Alba's cross was nudged on by Memphis and de Jong finished into the back of the empty net, but Memphis looked to be ever so slightly offside when the ball came into the box!
66’ Penalty claim! Garcia and Albiol end up in a bit of a tangle at the back post and Villarreal believe that they should have had a penalty. There might have been something in that!
77’ GOAL! Villarreal 1-1 Barcelona: An equaliser and it had been coming for Villarreal! It was far too easy for the home team to get in behind the Barcelona defence and Chukwueze was sharp enough to get there and prod a first-time finish into the back of the net!
88’ GOAL! Villarreal 1-2 Barcelona: Completely against the run of play, Barcelona might have snatched the winner! A long ball forward from ter Stegen gave Villarreal all kinds of problems, Memphis pounced on it, rounded the goalkeeper and finished into the back of the net!
90+3’ GOAL! Villarreal 1-3 Barcelona: Coutinho drew the penalty kick due to a foul from Foyth and the Brazilian took it, beating Rulli with a well-taken strike into the bottom left-hand corner! Rulli went the right way, but it was too far in the corner! Barca have the win.

KEY STATS

Frenkie de Jong scored his first La Liga for Barcelona since January 2021, ending a run of 28 games in the league without a goal.
Barcelona claimed their first away win of the season in La Liga and claimed back-to-back wins in the league for the first time too.
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