Barcelona’s nightmare run of form continued on Saturday as they fell to a chaotic 5-3 defeat to Villarreal at home.
Gerard Moreno and Ilias Akhomach fired Villarreal 2-0 ahead – the former also had an early goal controversially ruled out – but Xavi’s side roared back with three goals in 11 minutes to ease the pressure on their boss.
Strikes from Ilkay Gundogan, Pedri and an Eric Bailly own goal completely turned the game on its head and fired Barcelona into the lead, but Goncalo Guedes buried late on against the run of play to set up a fascinating ending.
It was Villarreal who would have the last laugh as Alexander Sorloth netted twice in stoppage time to seal a famous 5-3 victory.
How the game unfolded
A scrappy start to the game saw good efforts from both Lamine Yamal and Joao Felix blocked, with the latter’s strike also requiring a great save from Villarreal stopper Filip Jorgensen 15 minutes in.
Moreno had the ball in the back of the net 22 minutes in after some of the ugliest penalty box pinball you’ll ever see, but the assistant referee raised his flag and a VAR check spotted Alexander Sorloth standing in an offside position. Just how involved the Norway striker was in the play is up for debate, but the officials made the decision to chalk the goal off.
There would be no denying Moreno shortly before the interval, however.
Barcelona were asleep as they failed to defend a throw-in, and Sorloth’s fizzed cross was crashed home superbly by the Spaniard, sending Villarreal into the half-time break in the ascendancy.
Xavi made a huge statement at half-time with a triple substitution, sending a clear sign to his players that this first-half performance will not be tolerated.
Unfortunately, it was one of those substitutes, Joao Cancelo, who was guilty of an error for Villarreal’s second ten minutes after the break. Barcelona had actually started the second half brightly but the full-back failed to control a long ball and sent former La Masia star Akhomach through on goal, with the youngster rounding Inaki Pena and slotting home.
On came Ferran Torres to try save the day and the winger made an immediate impact as he drove at the Villarreal defence, and his pass found its way to the feet of Gundogan to slot home on the hour mark.
Seven minutes later and Barca were level. This time, it was another substitute, Pedri, who fired home after a ricochet from Gudogan landed perfectly at his feet.
The comeback was completed almost immediately after. Gundogan’s free kick was whipped in from the wing and deflected into his own net by Eric Bailly under immense pressure from Ronald Araujo.
It looked like Barcelona were going to roar to a huge win, but Guedes drilled home with six minutes to go against the run of play to tie things up once again and set up a fascinating finale.
As the clock ticked over into stoppage time, Barcelona were awarded a penalty when Gundogan’s strike hit the arm of Santi Comesana, but a VAR check decided the Villarreal midfielder did everything he could to avoid contact and the decision was overruled.
The drama was not over there as Sorloth netted in the 99th minute, crashing into the back of the net after some poor defending to end Barcelona’s hopes of snatching anything from the game.
Somehow, there was still time for another goal from Sorloth, who rolled the ball beyond Pena with the last kick of the game to send Barcelona crashing back to reality in astonishing fashion.