Late penalty saves Barca, Valverde celebrates 500th game in La Liga
MADRID — Ilkay Gundogan scored an injury-time penalty to give FC Barcelona a 2-1 win in Las Palmas on Thursday to keep their La Liga title hopes alive.
The game passed the 90-minute mark with the score at 1-1, which would have left Barca nine points behind Real Madrid and Girona, but the German international won the spot kick after he was pushed by Daley Sinkgraven as he looked to nod home a loose ball, reported Xinhua.
Two former Barcelona players, Sandro and Munir, had combined to give Las Palmas an 11th-minute lead, with Barca keeper Inaki Pena’s hesitation allowing Munir to bundle home Sandro’s cross.
Barca could have been further behind before the break when Sandro hit the post after Pena blocked Javi Munoz’s shot.
Without a shot on target in the first half, Barca leveled on 55 minutes when Ferran Torres finished calmly after Las Palmas had failed to clear a ball in their area.
Joao Felix and Lamine Yamal came on for Barcelona, and Victor Roque made his debut with 12 minutes left but missed an open goal which would have made it 3-1 after Gundogan’s penalty.
Also on Thursday, Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde celebrated his 500th game in a La Liga dugout by watching his team move into the top four with a 2-0 win away to Sevilla.
Athletic completely controlled the first half against their leaden rivals and the surprise was they only led 1-0 thanks to Mikel Vesga’s 30th-minute header.
Nico Williams hit the post for Athletic at the start of the second half, after which the home fans tried to get behind their team.
In the 74th minute, Aitor Paredes scored his first goal for Athletic as he latched onto a curling cross from Ander Herrera.
The defeat leaves Sevilla with 16 points from 19 matches, and Sergio Ramos had a verbal confrontation with a fan as he was giving his post-game interview.
Elsewhere, Ante Budimir’s first-half goal gave Osasuna a 1-0 win at home to bottom side Almeria, which means the Pamplona outfit travel to Saudi Arabia for the Super Cup in mid-table, while Almeria complete half a season without a win and with just five points from 19 games, the second worst start to a season in their history.
On Wednesday, Real Madrid ensured they reach the halfway point of the season as league leaders with a 1-0 win at home to Mallorca, but Girona remain level with them on 48 points after a thrilling 4-3 win at home to Atletico Madrid.
Celta Vigo climbed out of the bottom three with a 2-1 win at home to Real Betis, and Granada claimed their second win of the campaign with a 2-0 victory over Cadiz.
On Tuesday, Rayo Vallecano won 2-0 away to Getafe, who had three players shown red cards, Valencia won 3-1 at home to Villarreal, and Real Sociedad and Alaves drew 1-1.