Friday 24 January 2020

Alexis injury mars battling triumph for 10-man Barca

Alexis Sanchez will miss Barcelona's Champions League game against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday after hobbling off in his team's 3-1 win over Sporting Gijon yesterday.

The second-half substitute helped Barca secure the victory before tearing a muscle in his leg that will sideline him for 10-15 days.

The forward played for Chile in a friendly against Ghana in Philadelphia on Thursday and had time for only one training session with Barcelona before the La Liga clash. Alexis missed a number games at the beginning of the season with a muscle injury.

Seydou Keita and Xavi struck in the last 11 minutes to earn the champions a nervy win over lowly Sporting that kept their La Liga title hopes alive.

With leading scorer Lionel Messi suspended for the first time in his career, the champions lacked a cutting edge until Andres Iniesta fired them in front just before half-time at the Nou Camp.

The game was turned on its head a minute into the second half when home defender Gerard Pique was shown a harsh red card as he got in a tangle with Miguel de las Cuevas on the edge of the Barca area.

Almost immediately substitute David Barral stole in front of goalkeeper Victor Valdes to nudge in the equaliser for second-from-bottom Sporting.

Magnificent

The magnificent Iniesta drove Barca forward in search of the winner and Keita struck the decisive goal with a stunning shot into the top corner from an Alexis lay-off.

Iniesta then conjured a third goal for Xavi, who finished with a neat lob at the end as Barca closed the gap on leaders Real Madrid.

"With Messi it would have been easier because he is the best player in the world," Mali international Keita said. "I don't know if I have saved the team. It was just important to win three points."

AC Milan warmed up for tomorrow's trip to Arsenal with a 4-0 demolition of Palermo in Sicily, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic bagging a hat-trick. The Rossoneri are three points clear of Juventus, who were held to a 1-1 draw with Chievo.

Meanwhile, Lazio grabbed the bragging rights in Rome after a 2-1 win over 10-man Roma that leaves them clear in third place.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain returned to winning ways after three straight draws, beating Ajaccio 4-1 at home yesterday to move one point ahead of Montpellier at the top of the league.

Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez gave PSG a 2-0 lead, but defender Yoann Poulard replied just before halftime. Guillaume Hoarau struck four minutes from time before Brazilian winger Nene grabbed his 13th league goal in injury time. Montpellier drew 1-1 away to Dijon on Saturday, while defending champion Lille threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at home to Auxerre.

Irish Independent

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