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Three penalties and a late Luuk de Jong winner


Up until last night, Barcelona hadn’t had a single penalty awarded against them this season in LaLiga but yesterday, three were given in the same match. It feels like football is being run by mischievous, scheming devils. Three penalties given against Barça in one game is quite a big deal - especially after Real Madrid were awarded three just a few days ago in Vigo, to thicken the plot even more. The question is whether the penalty decisions were the right call or not. Dani Alves raised his arm so that an opponent couldn’t get past, but his rival overreacted, going down as though he’d been hit; I had my doubts about that one. Eric García’s handball is clear under the new guidelines; I don’t see anything dubious, his hand is in a natural position, but… And as for Lenglet, it was just extremely clumsy - sorry to put it that way but it was.

Levante, who are in desperate need of points, didn’t make the most of their opportunity. Roger will take some of the blame for that - he was unfortunate to miss the second spot-kick when the team was 1-0 up. Xavi looked worried as he instructed subs Gavi and Pedri, who came on to shake a dozy Barça into a reaction. Had Levante gone 2-0 ahead at that stage, it would have practically been game over but Roger’s penalty was saved, Xavi brought on his subs and from a possible 2-0, Barça made it 1-2 - first thanks to Dembélé's superb cross to Aubameyang who met it with an equally brilliant header and then a wonderful move involving the youngsters, finished off by Pedri. Scoring is turning into a habit for him.

The game seemed to be resolved, but then Lenglet came on - a specialist in the art of clangers - and he didn’t take long in committing the stupidest of the three penalties. That one did enter and once again Barça were back to square one, searching for a goal that would give them all three points - not in order to catch up with Real Madrid, who are too far ahead, but to distance themselves from Betis and the other teams who are on their tail. Fourth place represents a red line that neither Barça nor Atlético can cross. Their fans wouldn’t accept it, and nor would their finances. And the miracle came, right in the dying moments, a bullet header from Luuk de Jong in stoppage-time. Now there’s a player who, unlike Lenglet, has redeemed himself for past mistakes by scoring decisive goals.


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