Girona reclaims Spanish league lead with win over Osasuna
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Uruguay defender Ronald Araújo scored deep in stoppage time to snatch a 1-0 win for Barcelona at Real Sociedad, while Girona leads the Spanish league after beating Osasuna 4-2 on Saturday.
Araújo charged forward to join the attack in the dying moments in San Sebastian and guided home a lobbed pass by Ilkay Gündogan with a header to clinch victory for the visitors.
The goal saw Barcelona move back ahead of Atletico Madrid and into third place. Barcelona trails Girona by four points and second-place Real Madrid by one.
“Real (Sociedad) is a great team and pressured us all game,” Araújo said. “We didn’t play well, above all in the first half. But there are some games you just have to win any way you can.”
Sociedad, which is in sixth place, generated several scoring chances — especially in the opening minutes of the game — and dominated possession but was unable to convert its strong start into an early goal.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen kept the game scoreless. The Barcelona goalkeeper used one arm to block Ander Barrenetxea’s shot just seconds after kickoff. Mikel Oyarzabal and Mikel Merino then both went close with chances before Ter Stegen saved an effort by Takefusa Kubo.
Spain midfielder Pedri returned for his first action since August, when he injured his hamstring, coming on with just over half an hour left. Ferran Torres also replaced Robert Lewandowski, who made his first start in a month after recovering from injury recently.
Barcelona finally started to click in attack in the final minutes.
Araújo is a key defender for Barcelona, able to use his height at his natural position of central defender, and with enough speed to play at right back, like he did against Sociedad and in the prior round against Madrid.
The 24-year-old helped change the flow of the game by forcing the first decent save by Sociedad’s Álex Remiro in the final minutes. He beat Remiro by directing his header under the goalkeeper.
The gutsy victory came a week after Barcelona lost 2-1 at home to Madrid in a “clasico” game.
“I believe the ‘clasico’ affected us more than I had thought,” Barcelona coach Xavi said. “We had a ‘clasico’ hangover. Our first 20 minutes were unacceptable. This (win) gives a boost to our confidence.”
Ukraine striker Artem Dovbyk scored one goal and set up two more to lead Girona to victory in Pamplona.
Girona continued to surpass expectations with its convincing win after roaring ahead in a game in which it trailed 2-1 in the second half. Michel Sánchez’s side has 10 wins in 12 rounds. Girona's only loss was against Madrid, which is three points behind before hosting Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
Girona went ahead in the 16th minute through Iván Martín after Dovbyk set him free to cap a counterattack.
Osasuna striker Ante Budimir pulled the hosts level in the 25th before adding a second goal with a header in the 55th.
Dovbyk then took charge, heading in to make it 2-2 in the 71st after finishing off a long buildup. It was his sixth goal since joining Girona this season.
Artem set up fellow countryman Viktor Tsygankov to help put Girona ahead in the 80th. Aleix García volleyed in the fourth goal from just inside the area in the 90th to quash any hope of a late equalizer by Osasuna.
“We are proud of this win. It sums up what this team represents,” Girona defender Éric García said. “When they went up 2-1, we could have dropped our heads. We deserved this win. Our second half was superb.”
Sevilla escaped with a 1-1 draw at 10-man Celta Vigo after the referee overturned the awarding of a stoppage-time penalty following a video review.
Celta was leading until Renato Tapia was sent off with a second yellow in the 65th. Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri equalized in the 84th.
Celta coach Rafa Benítez was furious about the retracted penalty initially called against Sevilla’s Jesús Navas that would have given his struggling team the chance to grab a victory.
Benitze said "the referee on the field had seen what we all saw.”
Celta remained in the relegation zone after one win this campaign.
Nabil Fekir played his first minutes for Real Betis since tearing a ligament in his left knee last season in a 2-0 win over Mallorca. Betis moved up to fifth.
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