Girona have gone back to the top of La Liga thanks to a famous 4-2 win over Barcelona at Estadi Lluis Companys.
The City Group-owned club moved two points clear of Real Madrid and a whopping seven clear of Barcelona – who drop down to fourth following the defeat – thanks to goals from Artem Dovbyk, Miguel Gutierrez, Valery Fernandez and Cristhian Stuani.
Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan got the consolation goals on what was an abysmal night for Xavi Hernandez’s side.
How the game unfolded
After a frantic opening ten minutes in which both sides showed a capacity to hurt their opposition, it was shockingly Girona who’d draw first blood.
The goal would come courtesy of the La Liga high-flyer’s star Ukrainian duo Viktor Tsygankov and Artem Dovbyk, with the former bursting in behind a porous Barca defence before squaring to Dovbyk, who made no mistake with his subsequent effort on goal – coolly side-footing off the post and into the back of the net.
Barca came close to restoring parity soon after when Raphinha stole in at the back post to latch onto a wonderful curling cross from Joao Cancelo. However, ex-Tottenham goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga was in the right place at the right time to smother the Brazilian’s half-volleyed effort.
The home side weren’t made to rue that missed chance for too long, as two minutes later Robert Lewandowski made it 1-1.
The Polish international rose highest from a Raphinha corner kick to nod home his first goal since November and get his side back in the contest.
Not to be deterred by losing their lead in the game, Girona continued to cause Barca’s backline problems throughout the remainder of the first half. The best chances the visitors would create in that period would all fall to Miguel Gutierrez. The first would come after Gutierrez burst down the left flank and drifted infield past Ronald Araujo, before curling an effort from the left hand side of the post spin narrowly wide of the far post.
His second chance would end in similar circumstances, with the 22-year-old firing narrowly wide of the post from around the penalty spot after being found cleverly by Savio.
At the third time of asking, in the 40th minute, the flying wing-back would finally get his goal. After once again drifting in from the flank, Gutierrez slipped past Jules Kounde and fired superbly into the top left corner of the net to make it 2-1.
Barca began to assert their dominance territorially at the start of the second half, but didn’t really cause Girona’s backline too many problems until Xavi Hernandez introduced Ferran Torres, Lamine Yamal and Alejandro Balde with 25 minutes of the game remaining.
It would be the latter who’d create the first meaningful chance of the half for the home side, with Ferran Torres cleverly squaring to Ilkay Gundogan inside of the box before watching his teammate drill the ball narrowly wide of the far post.
That missed proved costly for Barcelona as, instead of drawing level at 2-2, soon after it was 3-1 to Girona. Substitute Cristhian Stuani made the most of a route one ball up into the Barca box to nod into the path of fellow substitute Valery Fernandez, who then brilliantly side-footed into the bottom right corner of the net.
Barcelona did manage to make the final few minutes rather nervy for Girona thanks to a goal from Gundogan. The ex-Man City man’s swivelling volley from the edge of the six yard box was well taken, but ultimately didn’t make much of a difference in the game as, three minutes later, Girona went back up the other end to make it 4-2.
Girona’s fourth of the game would come, once again, courtesy of A lofted ball over the top which Barca simply didn’t deal with. This time that ball was into the path of Savio who, after racing into the box, chipped into the path of Stauni at the back post. The towering striker was then able to slot into the net from point blank range.
GK: Inaki Pena – 5/10 – Beaten four times, but truthfully couldn’t do much about any of the goals.
RB: Jules Kounde – 2/10 – Girona exploited his side of the pitch in the first half. He couldn’t cope with Gutierrez at all.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 2/10 – Struggled to deal with Girona’s physicality up top.
CB: Andreas Christensen – 3/10 – Caught out with a ball in behind in the lead up to Girona’s opener.
LB: Joao Cancelo – 4/10 – Got forward well but left too much space in behind when doing so.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 7/10 – Played a bit further forward than usual in the second half and looked infinitely more effective than he has done previously in a Barca shirt. Scored a lovely goal late on.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – 5/10 – Didn’t do much wrong on the ball, completing 91% of his passes, but didn’t do enough to screen his backline on the day.
CM: Pedri – 5/10 – The midfielder didn’t really make an impact on the game.
RW: Raphinha – 5/10 – A few too many heavy touches when he had the chance to burst through on goal after being played the ball. Bagged an assist, but should’ve done so much more.
ST: Robert Lewandowski – 6/10 – Finally. Lewa scored his first La Liga goal since early November on Sunday. It was a nice header too.
LW: Joao Felix – 4/10 – Flattered to deceive after a game-winning performance last week against Atletico Madrid.
SUB: Ferran Torres (65′ for Joao Felix) – 6/10
SUB: Alejandro Balde (65′ for Andreas Christensen) – 5/10
SUB: Lamine Yamal (65′ for Raphinha) – 5/10
SUB: Fermin Lopez (80′ for Pedri) – 5/10
Manager – Xavi Hernandez – 2/10 – Completely out-thought by Girona manager Michel, the Barca boss simply didn’t have an answer for anything the opposition threw at his side on Sunday night.
Man of the match: Miguel Gutierrez (Girona)
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