Barcelona draw with Espanyol after Mateu Lahoz refereeing chaos

BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona ended 2022 on a disappointing note as Joselu’s second-half penalty gave Espanyol a 1-1 draw on New Year’s Eve at the Camp Nou.

– Report: Barcelona – Espanyol 1:1 | LaLiga table | fixtures

Barca had taken the lead through Marcos Alonso in the seventh minute but he then turned the villain when he caught Joselu’s heel in the penalty area midway through the second half. The Espanyol forward rolled the ball from point to center to give his side a point.

From then on, the game threatened to spiral out of control, with both teams reduced to 10 men in the last 15 minutes as Barca desperately searched for a winner who never arrived. Here’s ESPN’s Sam Marsden with his reaction and analysis from Camp Nou.

GO TO: Player Ratings | Best/worst performance | Highlights and Notable Moments | Quotes after the game | Key Statistics | Upcoming appointments

Fast reaction

1. Barcelona’s winning streak halted by Espanyol

Barcelona’s five-game winning streak came to an end in LaLiga when they held Espanyol to a 1-1 draw in a fiery Catalan derby at the Camp Nou on Saturday, putting Xavi Hernandez’s side top of the table with Real Madrid.

Marcos Alonso’s early header gave Barca the lead but what had been a relatively easy game was turned upside down when Joselu equalized from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute. It was the first goal Barca have conceded at home in La Liga this season.

The game then spiraled out of control with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz taking center stage. Jordi Alba and Vinicius Souza were sent off to ensure both teams were a man short and Barca chased a winner to restore their two-point advantage over Madrid, who beat Real Valladolid on Friday. However, Espanyol goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez produced two brilliant saves from Robert Lewandowski – who only played after a three-game suspension was suspended on Friday – and Andreas Christensen to earn a valuable point for the away side.

However, Barca will reflect on what happened before the chaos and the lack of quality in the final third during a first hour they largely dominated. Questions are also being asked about Raphinha, who was colorless, and Ansu Fati, who still didn’t look like the teenager who stormed onto the stage since a series of injuries prevented his progress.

2. Mateu Lahoz back in the spotlight

Referee Mateu Lahoz can’t help but be the center of attention in almost every game he’s used for. He did so in the World Cup quarter-finals between Argentina and the Netherlands, setting a FIFA record 17 yellow cards, and he did it here in his first La Liga game since the break.

After bizarrely kissing Barca coach Xavi on the cheek in the first half, he lost control of the game in a wild 10 minutes of the second half, sparked by his decision to give Espanyol a penalty. What followed were six yellow cards in four minutes, including two for Alba, who received his marching orders. Two minutes later, Vinicius received his second booking to level the game at 10-10.

What ensued was a brawl between the two teams, with Mateu dropping his yellow card in excitement and Leandro Cabrera then being shown a red for apparently putting a stamp on Lewandowski. After a lengthy VAR review, Cabrera’s sacking was overturned, causing the crowd at the Camp Nou to boil. They had been on Mateu’s case from the start and had mocked his name before the game, but now the noise was getting louder. And the hoots were replaced with swear words.

3. Espanyol show they are better than they seem in LaLiga

Espanyol are just a point above the relegation zone but even before this game at the Camp Nou, there was a feeling that they are better than their La Liga standings suggest. That seems true after they put on a performance that showed they should be too good to be dragged into a relegation battle.

In Joselu they have one of the most prolific strikers in the league, who has now scored eight goals this season. Behind him, Sergi Darder is one of the most underrated midfielders in Spain and Diego Martinez, as he proved during his time at Granada, is a very smart coach. They now have to repeat the fire they played with against Barca in every game. Thankfully, another derby against Girona is coming up next week.

Player Ratings

Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen 6; Sergi Roberto 6, Andreas Christensen 7, Marcos Alonso 6, Jordi Alba 5; Gavi 7, Frenkie de Jong 7, Pedri 7; Raphinha 5, Robert Lewandowski 6, Ansu Fati 5.
Subtitle: Sergio Busquets (6), Ferran Torres (6), Ousmane Dembele (6), Alex Balde (6), Jules Kounde (6).

Espanol (4-2-3-1): Alvaro Fernández 8; Oscar Gil6, Sergi Gomez6, Leandro Cabrera6, Brian Olivan6; Vinicius 5, Fernando Calero 5; Nicolas Melamed 6, Sergi Darder 5, Martin Braithwaite 6; Josephus 7.
Subtitle: Javier Puado (6), Edu Exposito (6), Simo (6), Aleix Vidal (6), Ruben Sanchez (6).

Best and worst performers

BEST: Alvaro Fernández, Espanyol

The Espanyol stopper made six saves but kept his best to the last, keeping Christensen and Lewandowski out in the closing stages of the game.

WORST: Raphinha, Barcelona

Had a lot of possession in the first half but was let down by his delivery. His afternoon was summed up when he received a short corner from Frenkie de Jong and let the ball escape with his first touch for a goal kick.

Highlights and notable moments

Like so many teams this weekend, Barcelona paid a silent pre-game tribute to Pelé, who passed away on Thursday.

Hey, remember that guy from the world cup? It never gets boring when he whistles, that’s for sure…

And in a chaotic period towards the end of the second half, Espanyol scored a crucial equaliser, holding on to a point that will give them confidence going into 2023.



Marcos Alonso misses a penalty to Espanyol, which striker Joselu converts coolly to make it 1-1.

After the game: What the players and coaches said


Key Stats (via ESPN Stats & Info)

  • Marcos Alonso’s goal was his first in LaLiga (9 career games played)

  • At the start of this game, Barcelona had won 15 consecutive games against Espanyol at the Camp Nou in all competitions since a 2-1 LaLiga defeat in 2009


Barcelona Xavi’s side play third-tier CF Intercity in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday (January 4) and you can expect a squad rotation as their next LaLiga game is at Atletico Madrid (January 8). With the schedules packed after the World Cup break and Christmas, they can’t afford to slip up.

Spanish: There is no rest for the ailing LaLiga team in the new year. They get a tougher Copa del Rey game against Celta Vigo on Tuesday (January 3) before they have a home game with Girona in LaLiga on January 7. Barcelona draw with Espanyol after Mateu Lahoz refereeing chaos

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