November 28, (THEWILL) – Memphis Depay and Philippe Coutinho scored late goals for Barcelona against Villarreal on Saturday to give new manager Xavi Hernandez his second La Liga victory with the Catalan outfit.
Nigeria international Samuel Chukwueze scored the equaliser that appeared to have handed the Yellow Submarine a share of the points, but Barcelona responded with just two minutes remaining to close the gap on Real Madrid to seven points.
As Barcelona raced for an early lead, Gavi brushed the far post with a low shot. Pau Torres was gifted the finest chance of the first half, only for the Villarreal defender to head wide when fully unmarked from a corner kick.
Three minutes into the tie, Dani Parejo put in a terrible tackle on Sergio Busquets that was shockingly not investigated by the video assistant referee (VAR). Then, Arnaut Danjuma failed to capitalise on an errant backpass by Eric Garcia.
Barcelona seized the lead in disputed circumstances three minutes into the second half. A VAR review determined that Memphis was onside when Jordi Alba’s cross was played, with de Jong following in on the rebound.
Villarreal may have been awarded a penalty kick for Garcia’s challenge on Raul Albiol, but substitute Chukwueze equalised with a prodded finish past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
But, Barca’s Memphis took advantage of some sloppy Villarreal defence following a Ter Stegen long ball to round the goalie and calmly convert as Barcelona edged ahead.
Philippe Coutinho won a penalty kick following a foul by Juan Foyth, with the Brazilian stepping up to convert from 12 yards out and put the finishing touches on Barcelona’s first away La Liga win of the season.
Villarreal face Victoria in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday before travelling to Sevilla in La Liga the following weekend. Barcelona will have a week off before hosting Real Betis in their next match.