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Tale of two penalties as Ronald Koeman’s men miss La Liga opportunity




Barcelona missed the opportunity to close the gap with La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid to six points as a late penalty gave Cadiz a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou. (More football news)

Lionel Messi scored a club record for the 506th league appearance with the spot’s opening goal in the 32nd minute.

It seemed like enough to give Barca an unconvincing victory, but a terrible week for Ronald Koeman’s side ended in a fitting fashion.

Clement Lenglet was on trial for cutting Ruben Sobrino in the zone and Alex Fernandez flatly converted from 12 yards in the 89th minute to win a share of the booty.

Barca dictated the procedures in the first half without posing a serious threat to break the deadlock until Iza’s trip to Pedri gave Messi the chance to do so.

He wasn’t wrong in rolling home nonchalantly, although Barca almost caught cold immediately afterwards, with Sobrino deflecting the ball wide with his knee with the goal seemingly at his mercy.

Frenkie de Jong and Pedri each had the ball in the net to see their respective efforts properly dismissed for offside, the latter denying after the flag was raised against Antoine Griezmann.

Ousmane Dembele shot wide at the end of a twisty run and Messi caught a tough chance for a brace on the crossbar in a largely short of excitement second half.

Their failure to find the second goal proved costly when Lenglet was left with a wry smile after referee Juan Martinez Munuera pointed the finger at the spot after a seemingly innocuous challenge on Sobrino.

Real Madrid academy product and ex-Espanyol midfielder Fernandez confidently dispatched the 12-meter leveler, leaving Barca eight points behind Atletico at the top.

What does it mean? The opportunity struck … and Barça did not respond

Barca’s Champions League prospects appear to be in tatters after Tuesday’s 4-1 humiliation at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain, but Atletico’s loss to Levante on Saturday gave them the opportunity to fuel hopes of ‘a La Liga title challenge.

Instead, they still have a mountain to climb in this regard after a performance in which they weren’t inspired up front and far from assured in testing at the rear.

The joy of six

Messi has now scored six straight games – scoring nine goals in that span – for the first time since February 2019. He is building momentum in what could be his last season for Barca.

Lenglet left for the street late fault

Lenglet’s foul giving the late penalty was one of the team’s best four in the game. It might have been dubious, but Lenglet paid the price for living to the limit.

And after?

Barca host Elche on Wednesday ahead of a tough trip to Sevilla on Saturday, a day before Cadiz returns home against Real Betis.

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