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Match Analysis: Barcelona 2-2 Deportivo La Coruna

Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action as Deportivo La Coruna survive relegation from La Liga with a 2-2 draw at Barcelona.

Deportivo La Coruna staged a two-goal comeback at the Camp Nou on Saturday to secure an unlikely point against Barcelona and retain their La Liga status in the process.

A double from Lionel Messi left the visitors 2-0 behind with 30 minutes remaining, but goals from Lucas Perez and Diogo Salomao proved enough for Depor to remain in the league on the head-to-head record.

Almeria and Eibar were both relegated on the final weekend and will join Cordoba in the Segunda Division next season.

Here, Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action at the Camp Nou.

Match statistics

Shots: 18
On target: 7
Possession: 78%
Corners: 4
Fouls: 6

Shots: 10
On target: 2
Possession: 22%
Corners: 4
Fouls: 9

Was the result fair?

One look at the statistics will paint a picture of Barcelona dominance and while that was the case for long spells, Deportivo's response in the final 30 minutes was just excellent. The visitors did not have a single shot on target in a first half that was dominated by the home side, but Messi's fifth-minute effort was all that separated the teams approaching the hour. When Messi scored a second, it did appear that Depor were heading for the Segunda Division. However, Barca's level dropped as changes were made and Deportivo started to throw everything forward, which was to pay dividends at the Camp Nou.

Perez, who has been Deportivo's best player this season, got one goal back in the 66th minute when he turned on the edge of the box before firing into the top corner. At that stage, Barca were uncharacteristically nervous and it was the visitors that continued to press forward. The equaliser came in the 76th minute when Salomao hammered home after a free kick had been blocked on the edge of the box. Depor knew that a point would more than likely keep them in the league and it was not much of a surprise when they dropped back in the latter stages. Barcelona were not exactly intent on finding a winner with more pressing matters ahead and when taking into account Depor's character, it was a well-deserved point in Barcelona.

Barcelona's performance

There were a lot of interesting side-stories that came with the team news for Barcelona, with Spanish goalkeeper Jordi Masip making his first La Liga appearance for the Catalan outfit, Thomas Vermaelen coming in for his debut and Xavi making his final league appearance. A much-changed XI also included Adriano, Marc Bartra, Jeremy Mathieu, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha and Pedro, with Luis Suarez still on the sidelines. Barca made a perfect start to the game - taking the lead in the fifth minute when Rafinha chipped a cross onto the head of Messi, who arrowed his effort past Fabricio. The Argentine thought that he had scored a second in the 14th minute, but the offside flag was raised, which was harsh on Messi, who appeared onside. Barca should have had a second just three minutes later when Messi had a strike saved into the path of Pedro, but Fabricio somehow got down to make another save. It was so important that Depor stayed in the game early on and that was indeed the case.

In truth, chances were few and far between either side of the interval, but Messi had his second in the 59th minute when Neymar raced through on goal before setting up the Argentine. Both sides made changes at that point and it did appear that the game was over in terms of a contest. However, Perez's goal handed Depor real hope and they rattled the crossbar through Haris Medunjanin during what was a strong spell of pressure. Eventually Depor's equaliser came 15 minutes from time when Salomao found the back of the net. A much-changed Barcelona team were far from their best and in truth, a number of squad players failed to perform. That said, with more pressing matters ahead, head coach Luis Enrique made what he considered to be the correct call for his team. They earned that right due to their exceptional 2015.

Deportivo's performance

It did not come as much of a surprise when Depor boss Victor Sanchez selected an XI that did not include an out-and-out striker. Instead, Perez started as a false nine, with the Spaniard flanked by Salomao and Ivan Cavaleiro, who both provided pace in wide areas. Depor would have wanted to contain the home side in the early moments, but they failed to defend a spell of pressure in the fifth minute and conceded when Messi headed past Fabricio. As mentioned, the visitors had to rely on their goalkeeper to make a couple of excellent saves in the first period, but they stayed in the game, which was so important at that stage. Messi's second looked to be relegating the visitors due to other results, but there is no question that Barcelona took their foot off the gas in the latter stages. With Barcelona's own level dropping, Deportivo took their opportunity to force the issue and somehow find a couple of goals, which seemed unlikely for so long.

The warning signs were there for Barcelona as Medunjanin rattled the crossbar with a wonderful free kick and the equaliser came when Salomao reacted first to a loose ball inside the box. A topsy-turvy final day looked to be sending Deportivo down, but Almeria could not hold onto all three points against Valencia, while Granada got the point they needed against Atletico Madrid. Eibar ran out 3-0 winners against Cordoba, but that was not enough to keep them in the league. Barcelona did not exactly force the issue in the latter stages in search of a winner and in truth, it was a comfortable final 10 minutes or so for Deportivo, who pulled off one of the best-ever escapes in terms of their position and the quality of the opposition. Perez was once again his team's best player, but Brazilian defender Sidnei must also be credited for a strong defensive performance. Depor only had two shots on target, but both ended up in the back of the net.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Lionel Messi: The Argentine made it 54 goals for the season with a double against Deportivo. Messi opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a powerful header, before netting from close range in the second period. The attacker also had another chalked off in the first period for offside, when replays indicated that he was level with the final defender. Barcelona were not at their best at the Camp Nou, but Messi was once again head and shoulders above. Even at 50%, the 27-year-old is capable of moments of brilliance.

Biggest gaffe

It is difficult to be critical of Barcelona due to their incredible season, but the Catalan outfit were really sloppy when the score went to 2-0. Perez and Salomao both scored excellent goals for the visitors, but the drop in intensity was apparent and the likes of Eibar and Almeria will be a little disappointed that Barca did not see the game out. That said, having won the title last week, they earned the right to play within themselves, which was certainly the case for much of the game at the Camp Nou.

Referee performance

In truth, it was not a difficult game for Clos Gomez to referee. There was hardly a challenge of note in the first period and although four bookings did arrive in the second half, two of those were for timewasting in stoppage time. The fact that the match was so open and entertaining is partly down to Gomez, who was always prepared to let the game flow. A fairly comfortable night's work for the Spaniard.

What next?

Barcelona: The Catalan outfit, who are chasing a treble, will face Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey on May 30. Their Champions League final against Juventus will follow on June 6.

Deportivo: Depor can now start preparing for another La Liga campaign, despite winning just one of their last 16 league matches. They will still be wondering just how they pulled it off.

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Deportivo's players celebrate a goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs RC Deportivo La Coruna at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 23, 2015
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