Late Dembele goal reignites Barcelona’s title hopes


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Barcelona are now just one point behind Atletico Madrid in the race for the La Liga title with nine games left in the season.

Atletico head the table with 66 points, followed by Barcelona on 65; while in third place is Real Madrid with 63 points.

But the Catalan giants needed a 90th-minute goal from Ousmane Dembele to secure all three points on Monday night at Camp Nou.

Just like it is for most teams after the international break, Ronald Koeman’s team looked out of sorts and struggled against an efficient Valladolid defense.

However, Dembele popped up at the back post in the last minute of normal time to thrash a left-footed volley past the impressive Jordi Masip.

It ensured they keep up the pressure on the current leaders, making it their 13th win in the last 14 games.

Barca started Monday’s game in an unassuming manner, playing with no intensity and just passing the ball from side to side with no movement in the final third. Valladolid on their part were set up well nicely with a five-man defense that was rarely challenged constantly in the first half.

It was in the latter stages of the first half before Barca could finally create something, and it was a long shot by Pedri that Jordi Masip deflected onto the post. The first half ending in a barren draw, Barcelona increased the intensity and brought on more pressure in the second half.

The hosts fired plenty of shots at goal and worked hard to recover the ball whenever they lost it and it was only a matter of time before the goal will come for Barcelona.

The tide shifted firmly Barcelona’s way in the 80th minute when Oscar Plano was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Dembele, and the Blaugrana played the last 10 minutes against 10 men.

Despite dominating every aspect of the game, Braca could not break the deadlock until the 90th minute when Dembele popped up with the all-important goal.

It is all to play for and next up for Barcelona is a trip to Madrid for the season’s second El Clásico while they will host Atletico on matchday 35.

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