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La Liga: Ter Stegen save earns Barcelona full points

The Catalans dominated the game until the final minutes when Mallorca started pressing for an equaliser and almost got it
Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen denies Mallorca’s Jaume Costa (extreme right) a goal with a handball-style reflex save on Sunday.
Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen denies Mallorca’s Jaume Costa (extreme right) a goal with a handball-style reflex save on Sunday.
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Reuters   |   Published 04.01.22, 02:39 AM

Barcelona striker Luuk de Jong’s first-half header and a stunning stoppage-time save by Marc-Andre ter Stegen secured a 1-0 win at Mallorca on Sunday in a match where the Catalans were missing 14 players because of Covid-19, injuries and suspensions.

Barca climbed two places to fifth on 31 points from 19 matches, one point behind Atletico Madrid in fourth and 15 adrift of leaders Real Madrid, who have played a game more.

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It was vindication time for striker De Jong after several media reports that Barca want to move him on this month.

He got his second goal since arriving from Sevilla in the close season — his first for more than three months. The Dutchman was Barca’s best player on Sunday as he also hit the post twice in the first half, once with a bicycle kick.

The goal came just before the break when he headed home from close range after a cross by Oscar Mingueza. Barca dominated the game until the final minutes when Mallorca started pressing for an equaliser and almost got it.

Ter Stegen saved Barca in added time with an unbelievable handball-style reflex save with his right arm, denying Jaume Costa whose close-range strike looked like a sure goal. “It was an historic win for us, I’m not exaggerating,” coach Xavi Hernandez told reporters. “Missing so many players, to go back home with a win — it’s three points worth their weight in gold.

“The young players showed up and Ter Stegen made a stop for the ages. I’m thrilled that we managed to win.”

Barca made the trip without the suspended Sergio Busquets, five injured players (Ansu Fati, Pedri, Memphis Depay, Martin Braithwaite and Sergi Roberto) and eight due to the Covid-19 outbreak at the club (Sergino Dest, Philippe Coutinho, Ez Abde, Jordi Alba, Alex Balde, Ousmane Dembele, Gavi and Dani Alves).

“It was important to win on a Sunday when Real Madrid, Betis, Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad all lost points,” defender Eric Garcia said.

“We managed to overcome a very complicated situation missing many key players. In the end, we owe Ter Stegen for 71 per cent of our win. That stop was incredible.”

Torres unveiled        

Barcelona unveiled new signing Ferran Torres at Camp Nou on Monday and the former Manchester City striker said he was ready to get going after being sidelined since October with a fractured foot.

“I’ll be ready in less than two weeks,” the 21-year-old Spaniard, who suffered a minor fracture on his right foot during last year’s Nations League campaign said.

“Today is a great day for me. Having played for two coaches with Barcelona roots, like Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola, has helped me to adapt to the Barca DNA.”



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