Barcelona returned to winning ways at Camp Nou with a much-needed 2-1 victory over Mallorca on Sunday.
Memphis Depay scored a team-leading 11th LaLiga goal of the season to give Barca the lead on 25 minutes before Sergio Busquets struck a rare goal nine minutes into the second half to seemingly make the victory safe. But a Mallorca team fighting to avoid relegation ensured a nervous finish when Antonio Raillo found the net following a free-kick with just over 10 minutes remaining.
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Barcelona came into the game on the back of losing three consecutive home games in a single season for the first time in their history. The slump in form had allowed Real Madrid to clinch the league title on Saturday and kept in jeopardy Barca’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season.
Sunday’s result takes Xavi Hernandez’s side back up to second place in LaLiga, a point above Sevilla and four clear of Atletico Madrid. More importantly, Barcelona now have a nine-point cushion to fifth-placed Real Betis, who have a game in hand, as they seek to secure a top-four berth.
While perhaps not as convincing a victory as Xavi would have hoped, the game did see the return from injury for the first time since January of young starlet Ansu Fati. The 19-year-old made his reintroduction as a substitute for the final 15 minutes, earning what may well have been the loudest cheer of the day from the Camp Nou crowd.
The one major negative for Barcelona, who also had two goals ruled out for offside, was seeing Gerard Pique being forced off injured in the first half and replaced by Eric Garcia.