Almeria 0-2 Barcelona: Player Ratings as Lopez's Brace Earns Comfortable Win - Latest Global News

Almeria 0-2 Barcelona: Player Ratings as Lopez’s Brace Earns Comfortable Win

Barcelona consolidated their lead over second place in La Liga thanks to a 2-0 win against already relegated Almeria on Thursday evening.

Xavi’s side were badly beaten by Girona at the start of the month but have since won two games in a row while their Catalan neighbors suffered something of a minor collapse. All in all, this means the gap to third-placed Girona is now four points with two games remaining.

Fermin Lopez scored both goals, one in each half, underlining his growing importance.

How the game developed

As expected, Barcelona were in control of the ball from the start of the game in Andalusia. Robert Lewandowski saved a shot a few minutes after kick-off, while shortly after the Pole sent a shot over the crossbar just as he was on target trying to lob goalkeeper Luis Maximiano.

The goal was the result of this early dominance when Lopez arrived unchallenged in the penalty area and nodded in 17-year-old left-back Hector Fort’s incoming cross from close range.

Almeria hadn’t done much to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the first quarter of the game, but they missed a great chance to equalize when Leo Baptistao was left free after a quick counter-attack and somehow missed the target entirely.

Ter Stegen actually had to save from Anthony Lozano shortly afterwards before Barca’s dominance was restored and Lamine Yamal hit the post from a tight angle. But Almeria returned the favor and found the net at the other end in the closing stages of the half, but Adri Embarda made a save.

As the second half began, Lozano could hardly believe he had fired a great chance past the post from the center of the penalty area. But neither team was able to capitalize on any significant chances until, with a quarter to play, Lopez doubled his tally and doubled Barcelona’s lead.

Sergi Roberto’s shot forward into the left channel made it possible and fired the ball to the onrushing Lopez, who was just arriving in the penalty area. His thrilling opening finish was unstoppable in no time.

The 2-0 lead prompted Xavi to make a series of changes, pulling Robert Lewandowski back for one (again) and moments later giving Vitor Roque his first minutes in a month.

Barca substitute Joao Felix probably could have made it 3-0 when the ball was accidentally passed to him in the penalty area. He managed to pivot under pressure while retaining possession, but ended up latching on to the close-range shot so it hit the side netting rather than testing Maximiano.

Hector Fort impressed

Hector Fort impresses / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

TW: Marc-André ter Stegen – 6/10 – Mostly a spectator.

RB: Jules Kounde – 7/10 – Solid defensive performance. I also managed to move forward.

CB: Pau Cubarsi – 6/10 – More important experience in the first team.

CB: Inigo Martinez – 7/10 – Played a big role in getting the ball into attacking areas.

LB: Hector Fort – 8/10 – Did a great performance, managed the ball well and got an assist.

CM: Fermin Lopez – 9/10 – The manager’s decision to bring him back into the starting eleven was fully justified with two very well scored goals.

CM: Sergi Roberto (c) – 7/10 – Came into the team for the suspended Ilkay Gündogan. Assisted the second goal just before coming off unwell after an earlier collision.

CM: Pedri – 7/10 – Holds the ball well and always looks for gaps that he can exploit with passes.

RW: Lamine Yamal – 7/10 – A good source of creativity on the right-hand side, although why Xavi insists on starting every game ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer is questionable.

ST: Robert Lewandowski – 4/10 – A disappointing night that ended with minimal turnout and another early withdrawal.

LW: Ferran Torres – 6/10 – Created a few half-chances and fired his own shot just wide of the goal.

Substitute

SUB: Andreas Christensen (69′ for Roberto) – 6/10

SUB: Joao Felix (69′ for Lewandowski) – 6/10

SUB: Vitor Roque (73′ for Torres) – 5/10

SUB: Joao Cancelo (73′ for Fort) – 6/10

SUB: Oriol Romeu (83′ for Pedri) – 6/10

Substitutes not used: Diego Cochen (TW), Inaki Pena (TW), Marcos Alonso, Marc Casado, Raphinha.

Manager

Xavi – 7/10 – It wasn’t Barcelona’s best performance, but the coach made good use of his team overall. It looks like he is sending a message to Lewandowski ahead of next season.

Player of the Match – Fermin Lopez (Barcelona)

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