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La Liga: Barcelona held by winless Granada at Camp Nou

In desperate move to find goal, Koeman sent in defender Gerard Pique to play as a striker in the closing minutes as the match ended 1-1.

AP Reported by: AP Madrid (Spain) Published on: September 21, 2021 10:44 IST
gerard pique, barcelona vs granada,
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

Barcelona's Gerard Pique (far right) vies for the ball with Granada defender German Sanchez in Barcelona on Monday night.

Less than a week after a demoralising loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Barcelona faltered at Camp Nou again, being held by winless Granada 1-1 in the Spanish league.

Barcelona needed a 90th-minute equaliser by defender Ronald Araújo, sparking jeers by many in the crowd of nearly 27,000 on Monday. The setback followed the 3-0 rout by Bayern in the team's first defeat since losing Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, and added pressure on coach Ronald Koeman and club president Joan Laporta.

Granada came to Barcelona winless in four matches and coming off two consecutive losses, including at home against Real Betis in the Andalucia derby last week. They defeated Barcelona at Camp Nou the last time they met in April.

“It's a shame,” Araújo said. “If we had been able to score earlier we could have gotten the victory. After the early goal they sat back on defense and that made it difficult for us.”

The draw left Barcelona in seventh place, five points from leader Real Madrid with a game in hand. Coached by former Spain manager Robert Moreno, Granada opened the scoring two minutes into the match with a header by Domingos Duarte off a set-piece.

Barcelona squandered two great chances to equalize before halftime — Sergi Roberto hit the crossbar from inside the area and Araújo's header was brilliantly saved by Granada goalkeeper Luís Maximiano. Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong also failed to capitalize on scoring chances in the second half, but Araújo finally broke through with a close-range header in the 90th.

“We know that Barça isn't going through a good moment and it was important to try to take advantage of that early on,” Duarte said. “Earning a point at Camp Nou is always good but we came close to getting the three points. In the end they had many chances too. It was a fair result.”

Koeman couldn't count on several players because of injuries, including Jordi Alba and Pedri González. He added a few youngsters in the second half, including Riqui Puig and 17-year-old Gavi, who set up Araújo's equalizer. Philippe Coutinho was one of the players replaced.

Veteran defender Gerard Piqué played as a striker after coming into the game in the final minutes.

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