Barcelona needs own goal to salvage draw at Rayo
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona needed an own-goal by Rayo Vallecano defender Florian Lejeune in the final minutes to salvage a 1-1 draw in Madrid on Saturday.
Rayo midfielder Unai López put the hosts ahead in the Spanish league game with a shot from well outside the area in the 39th minute at Vallecas Stadium.
Barcelona was held in check until late in the second half. Minutes after substitute Raphinha hit the post, Lejeune inadvertently turned a cross by Alejandro Balde, which was intended for Robert Lewandowski, into his own net in the 82nd.
Antoine Griezmann scored with a header as Atletico Madrid beat Mallorca 1-0 at home and moved into third place ahead of Barcelona on goal difference. Atletico, which also has a game in hand, visits Barcelona next weekend. Both teams are in Champions League action on Tuesday — Barcelona hosts Porto, and Atletico plays at Feyenoord.
Leader Girona is three points clear of Atletico and Barcelona before playing Athletic Bilbao on Monday. Second-place Real Madrid is two points behind Girona before visiting Cadiz on Sunday.
Rayo, despite its modest budget, has now gone undefeated against Barcelona in their last five meetings, winning three and drawing two. Barcelona’s last win over Rayo came in Jan. 2021 in the Copa del Rey.
Barcelona played its first match this season without midfielder Gavi Páez, who tore his ACL while playing for Spain last week.
“We didn’t play well, today we didn’t reach our potential,” said Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who started in his first game since recovering from a muscle injury that had sidelined him since September.
“We have had lots of injuries. I myself just came back from an injury and I did not feel sharp. The only answer is to keep on working.”
Goalkeeper Iñaki Peña played his first minutes of the season, starting in place of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who hurt his back with Germany. But his dive could not reach López's superb volley from long range.
“In the first half we were superior and then we faded a bit because they are a great team,” López said.
Griezmann broke through in the 64th minute with his ninth goal of the league campaign, only one fewer than top scoring Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham.
Memphis Depay played his first minutes for Atletico since recovering from a muscle injury he picked up in September.
Atletico midfielder Koke Resurrección made his club record-extending 600th appearance.
Mallorca was without striker Vedat Muriqi after he was hurt while playing for Kosovo.
Getafe got goals from Mason Greenwood and Borja Mayoral to fight back and beat last-place Almeria 2-1 at home.
Rafa Benítez’s Celta Vigo took a point from a 0-0 draw at Valencia, the club that he led to league titles in 2002 and 2004.
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