Barcelona lost a three-goal halftime lead on the day Xavi Hernandez was appointed coach as Celta Vigo scored in the 96th minute to complete a stunning La Liga comeback on Saturday.
Real Madrid then resisted Rayo Vallecano’s relaunch to win 2-1 and return to the top of the table, two points behind Real Sociedad, who will face Osasuna on Sunday. Radamel Falcao gave Rayo hope late.
âWe had a lot of chances to finish the game and when they scored we suffered,â said Ancelotti. âBut I’m happy. Until their goal, it was our best performance of the season.
Another deflating result for Barca was made worse by another injury for Ansu Fati, who put his side in the lead and then left with a hamstring problem.
Goals from Sergio Busquets and Memphis Depay gave Barcelona a 3-0 lead after 34 minutes at Balaidos, but Celta came back strong, with Iago Aspas scoring twice on either side of a Nolito header to seal a draw 3-3.
“We forgot how to play in the second half,” said Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong. âWe lacked personality.
Aspas’s equalizer, with a brilliant shot from the edge of the box, came with 95 minutes and 34 seconds on the clock and left Barcelona players crumpled to the floor.
Now it’s Xavi’s job to get them back, with the team’s new coach watching from Barcelona, ââwhere he landed around three hours before kick-off.
The 41-year-old had flown from Doha after confirmation of his sensational return to the club in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Barcelona’s chaotic defense and inability to handle a game while they looked in charge came as no surprise to Xavi.
However, Fati’s hamstring injury will be a concern, especially with a decisive Champions League game against Benfica on November 23, shortly after the international break.
Eric Garcia was also forced out with a calf sprain while Nico Gonzalez appeared to be uncomfortable when he was substituted before the hour mark.
“It’s no excuse but the injuries forced us to change the whole game strategy and the players,” Sergi Barjuan said after his last game in interim charge.
âIf you look at the composition, you are playing children. We relied on the children. With everyone, we are stronger.
Fati’s indefinite absence would be a blow to Barca, but also to Spain, who will be without the 19-year-old for the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Sweden next week .
Everything started so well for Fati and Barca, who took the lead in the fifth minute with a zero goal, Fati entered from the left and placed Celta’s right-back Hugo Mallo.
Fati formed to go left towards the line then came back to his right, folding a shot in the far corner.
– Fati injury –
Three minutes later, it was two. Nico rushed to the left and spotted Busquets, who crossed the edge of the penalty area and planted a shot inside the post.
When Depay led Jordi Alba’s cross to the near post, Barcelona looked home and dry, but Fati fell to the ground and Garcia was replaced at half-time by Ronald Araujo.
Celta transformed after the break. Marc-AndrÃ© ter Stegen should have held Franco Cervi’s cross and after knocking him down, Araujo should have cleared. Instead, he picked up the ball straight to Aspas, who finished.
Nolito was judged to have controlled with his hand before deadening a shot in the corner, but again Celta were not put off. When Busquets was dispossessed, Cervi crossed and Nolito entered.
Celta had 16 minutes to find the equalizer, then five minutes of added time, but it was in the sixth that Aspas finally struck.
Javier Galan pushed him from the left but Aspas had a long way to go, wrapping his left foot around the ball to whip it to the right, past Ter Stegen’s hand and inside.
Madrid were also at ease when Kroos and Benzema put them two ahead of Rayo Vallecano at halftime. Kroos hit Marco Asensio’s pass before Benzema hit a perfect cross from David Alaba.
But Madrid lost ground and Rayo capitalized, with Bebe hitting the post before Falcao, on the bench, scored his fifth goal in eight appearances for the club he joined in a free transfer this summer.