Barcelona vs Espanyol summary: score, goals, highlights | LaLiga 2021/22
Barcelona 1-0 Espanyol: as it happened
Barcelona - Espanyol: match summary
Xavi Hernández's return to Barcelona to steer the club back into the sunlit uplands got off to a perfect start with what the history books will record as a 1-0 derby victory over Espanyol. What actually unfolded on the pitch was a measure of the task the former Camp Nou midfielder faces: Memphis Depay scored the winner from the penalty spot after a very questionable award that VAR declined to have a look at and were it not for the woodwork, substitute Landry Dimata's clamorous miss and some quick hands from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen on the final whistle, the cracks that were papered over on Saturday night would have been still far too evident for home comfort.
Xavi's revolution will take time, that much is clear. And the Barça boss laid the first bricks of a new era by handing a debut to Ilias Akhomach, a 17-year-old from the La Masia academy who acquitted himself well. His replacement at half time was another youth teamer, reserve team winger Abde Ezzalzouli, who was Barcelona's best player on the night despite only getting 45 minutes.
Xavi also showed himself willing to play conciliator, handing Philippe Coutinho some minutes in the second half, a decision that almost backfired when the Brazilian's awful mistake in the 96th minute almost handed Wu Lei the equalizer.
Espanyol came to Camp Nou more in expectation than trepidation and will feel rightly aggrieved over the penalty. Raúl de Tomás clipped the woodwork twice as the visitors pressed for just reward in a second half in which Barça were second best but Xavi's side were able to hold on for a valuable win that will go some way to justifying the faith shown in the former Al Sadd coach, despite the performance suggesting that it will take a lot more than a new face in the dugout to solve Barcelona's problems.
If nothing else, Xavi has shown that the introduction of academy players at this level could provide a blueprint for positive change and given Barça's parlous financial situation,Joan Laporta will consider the arrangement a decent return on his own investment for the time being.
And there's the whistle! Xavi picks up a win in his first match as Barça coach but how Espanyol didn't manage to nick at least a point is beyond explanation. New manager rub of the green, little else.
Wu Lei! What a chance to bag the equalizer! The forward only has to touch it in but Ter Stegen somehow manages to gather after a howler from Coutinho.
Corner for Espanyol... López asking how long is left.
Loren on in a final roll of the Espanyol dice.
Cabrera booked for a foul on Ezzalzouli.
Memphis! The Dutchman is through and tests López with a fierce shot as Espanyol pour forward. The veteran keeper informs his teammates not to forget to defend.
Six minutes added!
Barça playing keep ball now and looking to run the clock down.
Araujo and Demir on for Barça.
Problems for Xavi as Nico hobbles off and Mingueza goes down with what looks like a muscle issue.
RDT! Post again! Nico is down injured at the other end but Espanyol play on, to the chagrin of Camp Nou, the Spain striker rising to meet a cross and whacking an upright with his effort.
Dimata! Ter Stegen was beaten there, rooted to the spot, and the Belgian only had to hit the target but heads just wide while unmarked!
De Jong in the book for a clumsy challenge on Wu Lei. Espanyol are in the ascendancy now and pushing for an equalizer.
RDT! Barça go with a two-man wall and the Spain striker clips the post with a curling effort over it!
Melamed is bundled to the turf and Espanyol have a handy looking free kick on the edge of the area.
Busquets is off for Barcelona as well, which is not good news for Xavi given his defensive contribution this evening, Sergi Roberto on.
Double change for Espanyol, Herrera and Embarba off, Landry Dimata and Wu Lei on.
Barça dropping back into a six-man back line as Espanyol probe for an opening.
Ezzalzouli! A fine run from the Barça B winger, who dances through a challenge and unleashes a shot that flashes high.
Coutinho on for Barça, Gavi off.
RDT! A ball over the top and the striker steals in between two defenders, forcing a poor touch from Mingueza, which he latches onto and flashes a shot just past the post.
Embarba shoots, Ter Stegen saves, the rebound falls to Morlanes, whose shot is wide. Espanyol knocking on the door.
Ezzalzouli brings down Pedrosa on the edge of the area and Espanyol have a real chance here...
Espanyol pressuring in the Barça half now and Busquets manages to break up a couple of attacks but the blue and white shirts keep coming.
Mingueza into the book for a blatant but necessary foul on the halfway line.
Ufffffff! Pedrosa races back to prevent a cross reaching Busquets and guides the ball past the post for a corner. Excellent defending from the Spaniard, who will hope Luis Enrique is watching this.
Pedrosa and Ezzalzouli get into a bit of a tangle and handbags ensue, as is customary in the Derbí. Yellow cards for both players.
Double change for Espanyol, Puado for Melamed and David López for Morlanes.
Barça looking to ensure there isn't an immediate sting in the tail with some patented knocking it around the back four.
Goooooooooooool! Memphis sends López the wrong way and Barça take the lead, much to the displeasure of Espanyol, who seem to have a fair point.
Looks like the ref won't be checking. Memphis steps up.
It looked like Cabrera got more ball than player, will VAR get involved?
Penalty! Memphis goes down in the area and the ref points to the spot!
We're back underway!
It remains goalless at half time but both sides have had their chances. Not a bad start from Xavi's side, who have shown a bit more enthusiasm than they did in the dying days of the Koeman era at least.
Pedrosa and Memphis in a foot race from a Mingueza hit and hope, and there's only going to be one winner there. The ball is ushered out by the Espanyol defender and there's the whistle!
Just the one minute added.
RDT! The Spain striker gets into the area and shoots, the ball taking a wicked deflection and looping over Ter Stegen and - to Barça's considerable relief - onto the roof of the net.
Memphis' natural tendency to drift out to the same area is also aiding the visitors. The Dutchman crosses and there is nobody in the middle to prevent the ball reaching López.
Espanyol are much more settled now, having realised that nullifying Jordi Alba on the Barça left will make their lives considerably easier.
Corner for Barça, taken short... has one of those ever come to anything? This one does... a goal kick.
Pedrosa again as he combines with RDT and forces Ter Stegen into a low save. The pressure on Espanyol has eased a little now.
Pedrosa, who is a real livewire on the Espanyol left, drives into the area and takes a tumble but the ref smiles and waves play on.
This just in... Ilias is very, very good. A decent spot from Xavi, who knows a thing or two about La Masia.
Busquets! He bagged a rare goal against Celta and tries his luck again from a smilar area, drawing a flying save from López.
The visitors are under the cosh at the moment and only a combination of a desperate rearguard action, the nous of López and the lino's flag are preventing Barça from opening the scoring.
Ilias again in the thick of it on the right as he gets around Cabrera and pings in a lovely cross for Gavi, whose header is on target but not powerful enough to trouble López.
Espanyol clear, Ilias does well to prevent the initial break but RDT is away from the next clearance and after twisting Gavi inside out warms Ter Stegen's gloves with an effort from a tight angle.
And Nico wins a corner off Cabrera at the other end. Chance for Barça now...
Oops, David López marshals it out on the far side after the delivery glances a head in the area but the ref signals a goal kick.
Corner for Espanyol....
Barça are swarming around the Espanyol area, with Busquets an unlikely playmaker on the edge of the area as he was against Celta, but the flag saves the visitors again.
He could have just shaken off that attention and he'd have had his choice of targets to pick. A note in Xavi's little book, we fancy.
Bueno, bueno Nico... the teenager is in after a mistake from López but goes to ground from the slightest contact and turns to the ref as he does so, looking for a penalty.
Ilias! He saw his name in the headlines there as the 17-year-old latched on to a ball in the area but snatches at it and skies it, with Xavi willing it in from the touchline. The flag was up anyway in fairness but the lad does not look out of place.
What a ball from Pedrosa! The left back lands it on RDT's boot from 30 meters but the Spain striker's first time volley is into the stands.
Nice move from Barça, De Jong feeding Memphis who had dropped to the left. The Dutchman pulls back for Nico but the youngster gets under his shot and it flies over the bar. Interesting to see De Jong on the front foot from the outset rather than sitting back as he did under Koeman.
A leggy run from Embarba who gets in behind and slips Jordi Alba to glide into the area but he's off balance as he shoots and Ter Stegen just watches it roll past the post.
Barcelona building patiently in midfield, short passes and ensuring there's not a sniff of a chance for an Espanyol steal. Where have we seen that before...?
A José Mourinho favourite during the Portuguese's tenure at Real Madrid of course and no big fan of today's opponents.
Memphis! Not a bad clip from the Dutchman on the volley but the vastly experienced Diego López was equal to it.
A first touch for Ilias as a professional footballer and he's clattered to the floor.
We're off! Espanyol get the ball rolling in Camp Nou!
The teams are out and it looks like Ilias will be lining up on the right of the Barça attack with Gavi on the left and Memphis through the middle.
It's looking like a pretty full Camp Nou this evening to see the return of prodigal son Xavi. That has not been the case mostly this season with culers keeping theirs firmly on the sofa at home during the Koeman days.
Barcelona's youth side have secured derby bragging rights already this afternoon, can Xavi ensure the seniors follow suit?
Espanyol starting XI confirmed
Moreno has gone with pretty much the same side that beat Granada 2-0 last time out with only Keidi Bare out for this one, RDT starting up top as can be expected for the league's joint-second top scorer, with recently capped Spain forward Javi Puado for company.
Ilias fast-tracked to first team
It was expected Xavi would look to La Masia before rummaging behind the Camp Nou sofas looking for Joan Laporta's check book but as far as we aware - and we are happy to be corrected - the winger has yet to even make an appearance for Barça B and is currently playing for the under-19s.
It's a statement, that's for sure.
And he has quite possibly sent a wee message to the board there as well with Coutinho and De Jong on the bench.
Barcelona starting XI confirmed
Xavi has named his first XI as Barça manager and he has handed a debut to Ilias, who starts alongside fellow teenagers Nico and Gavi. Big move from the Camp Nou boss.
While Xavi was always likely to return to Barcelona in some capacity, the appointment of Vicente Moreno at Espanyol was far more out of left field. The former Xerez midfielder arrived having been relegated with Mallorca, albeit after two consecutive promotion campaigns, and took Espanyol up at the first time of asking as Segunda champions last season.
So far he has been doing an excellent job in Primera as well, with the Pericos sitting in mid-table level on points with Barça.
Barcelona have traditionally had the better of this fixture. Espanyol's last victory in the derbí was in 2009 when Mauricio Pochettino was in charge, and that was the first victory for the Pericos at Camp Nou in 27 years. However, things are pretty even this time around and in Raúl de Tomás the visitors have a very handy match-winner.
Xavi also sprung a surprise with the inclusion of 17-year-old winger Ilias Akhomach. It will be interesting to see if we get a glimpse of the youngster this evening.
With no Sergio Agüero, Martin Braithwaite, Ousmane Dembélé or Ansu Fati available this evening, Xavi is likely to start with the much-maligned Luuk de Jong, top scorer Memphis Depay and possibly Philippe Coutinho, who did not cover himself in glory during the 3-3 draw with Celta a couple of weeks ago.
Xavi to make Camp Nou bow
Legendary midfielder Xavi Hernández, the club's all-time appearance record holder until he was pipped by Leo Messi last season, is back at Barça following the sacking of Ronald Koeman to try and salvage their season before a serious rebuild next summer.
Xavi will have his work cut out and has a lengthy injury list for the visit of Espanyol in the Derbí Barceloní, not least up front where Barça have been far from prolific this season.
Barcelona vs Espanyol: welcome
Hello and welcome to AS USA's live coverage of the LaLiga match between Barcelona and Espanyol from Camp Nou. Kick-off this evening is at 21:00 CET.