MX23RW : Wednesday, March 20 10:23:45
Sep 23, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Camp Nou
Attendance: 76,055
Messi (19'), Pique (63')
Lenglet (35')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Stuani (45', 51')

Live Commentary: Barcelona 2-2 Girona - as it happened

Relive Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Girona as the hosts see their perfect start to the season ended at Camp Nou.
Live Commentary: Barcelona 2-2 Girona - as it happened
© Reuters

Barcelona saw their perfect start to the season come to an end this evening as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Girona at the Camp Nou.

The hosts took the lead through Lionel Messi after 19 minutes, but found themselves down to 10 men later in the first half when Clement Lenglet was shown a straight red card.

Goals either side of half time by Cristhian Stuani saw Girona turn the game on its head, but Gerard Pique earned a point for Barcelona with a header just past the hour mark.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of our minute-by-minute updates below.

6.45pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's La Liga showdown between Barcelona and Girona!

Barca have made a perfect start to the new campaign across all competitions and will be heavy favourites to extend that winning run tonight, although they face a Girona team who continue to upset the odds and impress.

We will have a close look at both teams a little later, but first let's check out the team news from the Camp Nou...

6.47pmBARCELONA STARTING XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Arthur, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Dembele

6.47pmBARCELONA SUBS: Rakitic, D Suarez, Coutinho, Cillessen, Munir, Roberto, Umtiti

6.49pmGIRONA STARTING XI: Bounou; Aday, Espinosa, Alcala, Juanpe, Muniesa; Garcia, Pons, Granell; Portu, Stuani

6.49pmGIRONA SUBS: Iraizoz, B Garcia, Luiz, Roberts, Doumbia, Montes, Porro

6.51pmWhat can we make of those two teams, then?

Well, the headline news is arguably that Samuel Umtiti misses out for the home side, with Lenglet coming into the starting lineup in place of the World Cup winning defender.

Gerard Pique continues alongside Umtiti at the heart of the defence, meanwhile, with Nelson Semedo returning on the right flank as Roberto drops to the bench from the midweek win over PSV.

6.53pmThe inclusions of Semedo and Lenglet are two of four changes made to that midweek Champions League opener, with Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho also dropping to the bench.

Their places in the side are taken by summer signings Arthur and Arturo Vidal, with Ernesto Valverde opting to keep things fresh in midfield this evening.

6.55pmThere is no need to chop and change the front three, though, with Messi, Suarez and Dembele leading the line once again this evening.

As usual Messi stole the headlines in midweek with a record-breaking eighth Champions League hat-trick against PSV - including a stunning free kick to open the scoring - and he has been in typically good form throughout the campaign so far, scoring seven goals in just six appearances.

Lionel Messi celebrates the opener during the Champions League group game between Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven on September 18, 2018© Reuters

6.57pmOusmane Dembele has also been a superb form for Barca so far this season, putting a troublesome debut season with the club behind him and beginning to show exactly why the club paid so much money for him last summer.

The winger's fine solo effort against PSV in midweek took him to five goals in his six appearances so far this season - which is already more than he managed throughout that injury-stricken 2017-18 campaign.

6.59pmLuis Suarez has three goals in four league appearances himself, so while the front three doesn't have the same star power as it did when Neymar was a part of it, they are all still in very good goalscoring form.

Barca hit Girona for six in their most recent meeting too - with Suarez helping himself to a hat-trick in that match - so they will fancy their chances of more tonight too.

7.01pmAs for Girona, they may change their formation slightly for this match having played with three at the back against Celta Vigo last weekend.

Eusebio Sacristan has once again named three central defenders, but it is more likely to be closer to a 5-3-2 formation tonight than the 3-4-3 system they deployed last time out.

7.03pmFormer Middlesbrough striker Cristhian Stuani is expected to be the main threat for the visitors tonight, having scored twice against Celta to take his tally up to three in four games this term.

There are a number of other former Premier League players in the Girona squad too, including Seydou Doumbia and former Stoke - and Barcelona - defender Marc Muniesa. Aleix Garcia - who starts - and Patrick Roberts are on loan from Man City, meanwhile.

7.05pmMuniesa is one of the two changes made by Eusebio for this match, replacing Porro in the starting lineup, while the other sees Douglas Luiz drop to the bench in favour of Pons.

Aside from that, though, Eusebio has largely kept faith with the players who made it two wins in a row against Celta last weekend.

7.07pmBarcelona will know that last season's surprise package are not arriving at the Camp Nou simply to make up the numbers, but the hosts are firm favourites for this game having made a perfect start to the season.

Barca's performances have not actually been as good as their results might suggest and there is certainly still room for improvement, but the results are coming and that is always the most important thing.

7.09pmFour wins from four league games gives Barca the only remaining perfect record in La Liga, but they still find themselves second in the table following Real Madrid's win over Espanyol yesterday.

A win or a draw would be enough to send Barca back to the top of the pile tonight, though, with Madrid having won four and drawn one of their opening five games.

7.11pmBarcelona have also been perfect in other competitions so far this season, beginning the campaign by beating Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup and then thrashing PSV in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

As previously mentioned, Messi helped himself to a hat-trick in that match, so despite being left out of the three finalists for The Best awards - which will be decided tomorrow - Messi is still at the top of his game at the moment.

7.13pmIndeed, Barcelona as a team have begun the season in ominous goalscoring form, netting 14 times in their opening four league games - an average of 3.5 per game.

The majority of those goals did come in an 8-2 thrashing of Huesca in their most recent home league game, which slightly skews the statistics, but they have been prolific in general so far this season.

7.15pmIn all competitions Barcelona have scored 15 goals from three home games so far this term, while you have to go back more than a year to August 2017 for Barca's last defeat here at the Camp Nou.

That is an unbeaten run of 32 matches which includes 29 victories, including an ongoing five-match winning streak which they will be bidding to extend tonight.

7.17pmBarca's unbeaten run at home is even longer when you look at just La Liga, with their last league defeat at the Camp Nou coming more than two years ago now in September 2016.

Barca have won 32 and drawn six of their 38 such games since that shock defeat by Alaves, which gives some concept of the challenge in front of Girona tonight.

7.19pmBarca boss Ernesto Valverde is expecting a difficult task nonetheless...

7.21pmGirona are certainly not a team to be underestimated, and it is easy to forget that this is just their second ever season of top-flight football.

Girona upset all the odds last term by not only staying in the division, but doing so comfortably with a 10th-placed finish - equidistant between the relegation zone and the Champions League places.

7.23pmTonight's visitors began the day in 10th place again having overcome a winless start to the season with back-to-back victories in their last two outings.

Girona started with a goalless draw against Valladolid before being swept aside by Real Madrid, but have since bounced back with wins over Villarreal and Celta Vigo.

7.25pmAnother win today would make it three in a row for the first time since March, and would also secure three successive away wins in the top flight for the first time in their history.

Of course, the likelihood of pulling off that win is remote, but they did win their only other away game so far this term by beating Villarreal 1-0 at the end of August.

7.27pmGirona are now unbeaten in their last four away games, winning three of those, but when they do lose on the road then they tend to do so fairly spectacularly.

Their last three away defeats have seen Girona ship a whopping 17 goals in total - including six against both Barcelona and Real Madrid and a 5-0 loss at Real Sociedad most recently.

7.30pmThis will be a particularly special occasion for manager Eusebio Sacristan, who spent the bulk of his playing career at Barcelona and was a member of their 'Dream Team' era.

Eusebio made more than 200 appearances for the club during that time, helping them to four successive league titles, the 1992 European Cup, the Cup Winners' Cup and a Copa del Rey crown, amongst others.

7.33pmBarca boss Ernesto Valverde is certainly expecting a difficult test for his side tonight...

7.35pmPREDICTION! Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff now, which means that it is time for a prediction!

I cannot see past a home win for this one, and a relatively comfortable one at that. Girona can never be fully counted out, but it would be a major surprise if the visitors managed to get anything out of this game.

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Barcelona 3-0 Girona

7.38pmThis will be just the third competitive meeting between these two sides, with the first two coming just last season in Girona's debut La Liga campaign.

Barcelona dominated both of those matches, scoring nine goals over the games and conceding just one.

7.41pmThe most recent shodown came in February when Girona actually took the lead here at the Camp Nou, with Portu netting the opening after only three minutes.

Suarez responded to restore parity just two minutes later, though, going on to score a hat-trick while Messi got two and Coutinho scored.

7.44pmRight, the players are out and we're almost ready to get started now! A reminder of the team news before we do get started...

BARCELONA STARTING XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Arthur, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Dembele

GIRONA STARTING XI: Bounou; Aday, Espinosa, Alcala, Juanpe, Muniesa; Garcia, Pons, Granell; Portu, Stuani

1 minKICKOFF:  Here we go, then! Barcelona get us underway at the Camp Nou!

3 minAs expected, Barcelona are seeing the lion's share of possession in these opening exchanges. Incidentally, it is another record-setting day for Messi already...

5 minCHANCE!  Girona are by no means packing everyone behind the ball here, and they have the first big chance of the match! A corner is swung in to the back post where Espinosa is waiting, but his firm header is straight at the keeper. Either side of him and that could have been the opener!

7 minBarcelona respond with a good attack of their own, with Suarez sliding the ball to Dembele on the left channel. The winger drills a low cross into the box, but it is scrambled behind for a corner with Alba lurking.

7 minThe resulting corner is played short and eventually ends up with Dembele on the wing again, but this time there is no-one to tap home his enticing cross which flashes right through the corridor of uncertainty.

8 minBarcelona are really knocking on the door now! This time the cross arrives from the right and Suarez leaves it, but Alba is slow to react at the back post.

10 minGirona are looking to spring quickly whenever they get the ball back, but actually gaining possession is proving the problem at the moment. Barcelona are dominating the ball right now.

12 minCHANCE!  Messi is very close to breaking the deadlock as he collects the ball on the edge of the box and beats three defenders on his way into a shooting position. He tries to just pass his finish into the far corner, but Bounou gets a fingertip to it to turn it around the post.

13 minYELLOW CARD!  Semedo is the first name in the book tonight and it is a very painful one for Portu, whose ankle was caught by the Barcelona defender.

15 minYELLOW CARD!  Semedo is quickly joined in the book by Arthur, who caught Aday late.

16 minYELLOW CARD!  A flurry of cards early on here! Stuani is the latest player in the book for a late trip on Semedo.

18 minIt is all Barcelona at the moment; they are knocking the ball about amongst themselves and Girona are struggling to get any time in possession themselves at the moment.


19 minGOAL!  Barcelona make the breakthrough and it is Lionel Messi who grabs his eighth goal of the season already!

Vidal broke into the box and used his strength to shrug off a defender before teeing up Messi, who simply strokes his first-time finish into the bottom corner. Easy as you like for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner!

21 minCHANCE!  Suarez nearly makes it two in as many minutes with some brilliant footwork to escape the defender, but he tries to give the keeper the eyes and Bounou is not fooled at his near post.

23 minThis could be a long evening for Girona if things carry on this way. They need to get themselves on the ball and keep it for a while as right now it is coming straight back at them every time.

25 minThe visitors have only managed around 63% pass completion, which is not helping them at all. Possession will always be limited against Barcelona here, but Girona need to do more with what little of it they have.

27 minHere is the goal which separates the two sides as things stand...

28 minSAVE!  Vidal fires the ball towards the feet of Suarez, who does really well to touch it into the path of Dembele. The winger's eventual effort is tame, though, and easy for the keeper.

29 minOFF THE LINE!  Girona are so close to grabbing an equaliser against the run of play! Portu races on to a through-ball from Granell and beats Ter Stegen to it, taking it past the keeper but then seeing his finish cleared off the line by Pique.

31 minThat should just provide Girona with some encouragement having been on the back foot for so much of this game so far. As long as the deficit remains one, they are still very much in this match.

33 minPortu is trying to lead the charge for the visitors and he bursts forward here before being crowded out. Barcelona immediately look to launch a counter, but Dembele's touch is poor and a good attacking platform goes begging.

34 minThe referee is going to check the VAR here after a replay showed Lenglet catching his opponent with an elbow. It didn't seem to be intentional, but the referee wants a look...


35 minRED CARD!  Big moment in this match as Clement Lenglet is shown a straight red card! Lenglet was actually fouled by Pons when his elbow came up and caught the Girona man, but there didn't seem to be any malice in it. Very strange decision from the referee, and what was initially a Barcelona free kick is now one for Girona!

37 minSAVE!  Garcia goes for goal from the resulting free kick, but it is a long way out and Ter Stegen is over there in plenty of time to gather comfortably.

39 minYELLOW CARD!  Espinosa gets the latest card for grappling with Suarez, although that is another harsh decision.

40 minSAVE!  Messi swings the resulting free kick towards goal, but similar to the one at the other end moments later it is easy for the keeper.

42 minHere is that red card decision, and the foul that led to it...

44 minSergio Busquets has dropped back into defence following that Lenglet red card, while Dembele appears to have dropped a little deeper to make it more of a 4-3-2 formation.


45 minGOAL!  Out of nothing, Girona are level right on the stroke of half time!

It is poor defending from Barcelona as Stuani escapes Pique to break clean through on goal, avoiding the chance to go down under the challenge of Busquets inside the box. Ter Stegen is a little slow to come off his line, and that allows Stuani to clip it past the keeper.

45+1 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this first half.

45+2 minSuarez and Alba combine to tee up Messi, who fires a first-time effort over from inside the area, but the linesman's flag is up against Alba anyway.


8.44pmThe first half comes to an end at the Camp Nou, then, and we are very interestingly poised at the halfway stage.

Girona's equaliser right on the stroke of half time will make them the happier of the two teams at the interval, and they may even feel that they might go on and win the game given that Barcelona are down to 10 men.

8.46pmThe opening goal arrived in the 19th minute as Lionel Messi broke the deadlock, running on to Vidal's square pass and burying his finish into the bottom corner.

It was poor defending from Girona - in particular former Barcelona man Muniesa - as Vidal was able to break into the box and tee up Messi, who made no mistake with his finish.

8.48pmGirona levelled things up right on the stroke of half time, though, and on that occasion it was Barcelona's defending which was punished as Stuani scored for a third game in a row.

The former Middlesbrough striker nipped in front of a complacent Pique and broke into the box before clipping his finish past the keeper from close range.

8.50pmThe major turning point and talking point of the half came with 10 minutes to go until the interval, though, as Clement Lenglet was shown a straight red card on a VAR review.

It was a very controversial decision, with Lenglet having initially been awarded the free kick before it was reviewed. He caught Pons with an elbow, although it is still unclear whether there was any malice involved.

46 minKICKOFF:  We're back underway at the Camp Nou and there have been changes from both sides. Aleix Garcia has been replaced by Borja Garcia, while Dembele has been sacrificed for Barcelona as Samuel Umtiti comes on.

48 minSAVE!  Bounou is called into action early in this second half, but it is a routine stop from the keeper to deny Arthur's effort.

49 minCHANCE!  Big chance for Barcelona as Semedo races on to a through-ball down the right flank before finding Suarez, who drops a shoulder to create shooting space but then sees his effort deflected wide.

50 minSAVE!  Barcelona continue to apply the pressure early in this second half, with Arthur the latest to go for goal. It is another comfortable save for the keeper, though.


51 minGOAL!  The shock is on! Stuani stuns the Camp Nou with his second goal of the night, lashing a brilliant finish into the top corner with the keeper out of position having denied Portu.

Pique does not have the pace to keep up with Portu, who races on to the ball and goes down under the challenge of Pique inside the box. It would be a penalty, but Portu bounces straight back up and sees his effort thwarted by Ter Stegen. The ball falls to the feet of Stuani, who buries his strike into the top corner.

53 minThere is still a long way to go in this match, of course, but Girona are on course for a famous result here. They have the goal advantage and the man advantage, and suddenly it is Barcelona who find themselves against the odds.

55 minSuarez breaks forward down the left flank and cuts back inside before swinging a cross into the middle. Vidal throws himself at it, but it is just too high for him.

57 minTer Stegen comes flying out of his area and bodychecks his man to ensure that the ball goes out for a throw-in, but the referee does not give a free kick. Risky from the Barca keeper there!

59 minBARCELONA SUBS: A double change for Barcelona sees Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho replace Arthur and Vidal.

60 minOFF THE BAR!  Messi curls a free kick towards the top corner, but his brilliant effort clatters against the crossbar! That would have been a stunning strike.

61 minYELLOW CARD!  Juanpe is the latest name in the book for a mistimed challenge on Suarez.

62 minSAVE!  Messi stands over another free kick, but this one doesn't have the same amount of power behind it and the keeper gets across to make the save.


63 minGOAL!  Barcelona level things up, and it is Pique who makes up for some questionable defending for both Girona goals!

Suarez does really well to keep the ball alive by darting to the near post and seeing his effort saved by the keeper from a tight angle. The ball rises high in the air, and Pique beats two defenders to nod it past the retreating keeper.

65 minSuddenly it is Barcelona who have the momentum, and this one is very finely poised now. We are in for an entertaining final 25 minutes!

67 minYELLOW CARD!  Alcala is the latest in the book for a really poor challenge on Messi just outside the area. Free kick in a very dangerous position...

69 minSAVE!  This time Messi slips while hitting it, though, sending it looping easily into the arms of the keeper.

71 minGIRONA SUB: Another change for the visitors as Douglas Luiz replaces Granell.

73 minIt is Barcelona applying the pressure at the moment as they go in search of a winner here, with Girona seemingly happy to hang on for a draw despite their man advantage.

75 minHere is that Pique goal which, as things stand, will earn 10-man Barcelona a point...

77 minMuch like stages of the first half, Girona now just need to get themselves on the ball for a sustained period of time. Barcelona are passing them to death at the moment.

79 minMessi drives forward into the box and is then levered off the ball by a defender, but the referee says no penalty.

80 minSHOT!  Suarez collects the ball around 25 yards from goal and is given the time and space to turn and shoot, but his effort deflects over the bar.

80 minCHANCE!  Brilliant defending from Espinosa as he makes a latch-ditch challenge to deny Umtiti after Pique had found him with a headed knockdown.

82 minMessi steps it up a gear by darting forward before laying it through for Alba, but the full-back gets the ball caught under his feet and the chance goes begging.

83 minSHOT!  Coutinho is given too much space outside the area and subsequently goes for goal, but his low effort is saved by the keeper.

85 minGIRONA SUB: Another change from the visitors as Seydou Doumbia replaces Portu.

87 minBusquets is the latest to call for a penalty as he goes down right on the edge of the area, but once again the referee is having none of it.

88 minCLOSE!  Coutinho looks to come up with a trademark finish as he tries to curl one into the far corner, but this time he cannot get enough bend on it and it flashes past the post.

90 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.

90+1 minAlmost a chance for Barca to win this late on as Alba breaks down the left channel, but his cross is too high for Pique at the back post. It would have been a tap-in for the defender!


9.48pmThe referee blows for full time at the Camp Nou, and it is a famous result for Girona as they pick up a point away to Barcelona for the first time in their history - ending Barca's 100% start to the season in the process.

Messi had opened the scoring for the hosts, but a red card for Clement Lenglet changed the game and Cristhian Stuani scored either side of half time to put Girona ahead. Pique rescued a point for the 10 men of Barcelona, but it is a first slip-up of the season from Valverde's men.

9.50pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's match as Girona end Barcelona's perfect start to the season! I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for any reaction too.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets with Lionel Messi after his side's Spanish Super Cup win in August 2018
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