Sunday 22 April 2018

Pique to the rescue as Barca set club record

Pique headed home an 82nd-minute Lionel Messi free-kick to extend Barca’s unbeaten start to the season to 22 games – a club record. Photo: Getty Images
Pique headed home an 82nd-minute Lionel Messi free-kick to extend Barca’s unbeaten start to the season to 22 games – a club record. Photo: Getty Images

Jamie Holland

Barcelona needed a late equaliser from Gerard Pique to earn a 1-1 draw with Espanyol.

Gerard Moreno threatened a La Liga upset at a soggy RCDE Stadium when he opened the scoring midway through the second half with a header from Sergio Garcia's cross.

However, Pique headed home an 82nd-minute Lionel Messi free-kick to extend Barca's unbeaten start to the season to 22 games - a club record.

Philippe Coutinho hit the bar in the 22nd minute for Barca, who are now within 10 matches of equalling the national record set by Real Sociedad in 1979-80.

Meanwhile, Giampaolo Pazzini enjoyed a dream Levante debut as he stepped off the bench to score a late equaliser against Real Madrid.

Real looked to be heading for a third successive La Liga win thanks to goals from Sergio Ramos and Isco but Italian veteran Pazzini, who joined on loan from Hellas Verona on deadline day, struck in the 89th minute to earn the strugglers a 2-2 draw.

Pressure

Gonzalo Higuain scored a second-half hat-trick as Juventus routed Sassuolo 7-0 to keep the pressure on Napoli in the Serie A title battle.

Dries Mertens and Marek Hamsik were on target for Napoli in their 2-0 win over Benevento to keep them one point ahead of Juve.

Ten-man AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at Udinese. The visitors took an early lead through Suso but Davide Calabria's dismissal and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma's unfortunate own goal - the ball going in off his arm after Kevin Lasagna's cross deflected off Leonardo Bonucci and deceived him - pegged them back.

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich extended their lead in the Bundesliga with a 2-0 victory at Mainz.

Franck Ribery opened the scoring with an unstoppable volley and James Rodriguez doubled Bayern's lead moments before the interval with another fine finish. Bayern are 18 points clear of Bayer Leverkusen.

Mario Gomez came back to haunt his former club as Stuttgart came from behind to draw 1-1 with Wolfsburg.

On-loan Liverpool striker Divock Origi scored his fifth Bundesliga goal for Wolfsburg with a neat finish after 24 minutes.

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