Ousmane Dembele scored the only goal as La Liga champions Barcelona survived a late VAR scare to claim a hard-fought 1-0 win at promoted Real Valladolid.
Dembele struck just before the hour after spurning several chances at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla but the hosts would not lie down and almost snatched a last-gasp point.
Here’s a look at the Barcelona v Real Valladolid post-match statistics.
Coach Ernesto Valverde has criticised the pitch at Real Valladolid after Barcelona scraped to a 1-0 victory.
The players were seen struggling as the newly laid turf began cutting up during the match at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla, with Valverde saying he had not seen anything like it “for a long time”.
The Barca coach blamed the state of the surface for making it difficult for his players to launch a counter attack and find a second goal.
Quoted on the club’s official website, he said: “Valladolid played with good pressure and they pushed us, but the pitch had a lot to do with it.
“We were more dominant and had opportunities, but we couldn’t score the second goal.
“There was a time when they changed the system and we could’ve made it 0-2 then, but in the last few minutes we did badly.
“These results give us opportunities to win the league, but we feared that there could be some injury, the state of the pitch has conditioned both teams.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 25, 2018
Ousmane Dembele scored the only goal just before the hour in the hard-fought win, but the hosts would not lie down and almost snatched a last-gasp point.
Deep into stoppage time, Keko headed home what he thought was an equaliser but it was eventually ruled out for offside after intervention by the video assistant referee.
Valladolid coach Sergio Gonzalez said after the match he thought his team had deserved to walk away with a draw.
“We were very involved the first 30 minutes, we knew how to suffer, be strong and endure situations of danger to grow and surpass us, making good football and looking for a point that finally did not come and maybe we deserved,” he told the club’s website.
He defended the state of the pitch, saying they had done “everything possible” to have it in the best condition.
“My players are also soccer players, not farmers. Nobody is interested in playing on a lawn that does not meet good conditions,” he said.
The grass “was the same for everyone”, he added, saying the only option was to “adapt” to what was there.
La Liga president Javier Tebas tweeted after the match to say the turf “did not meet the minimum conditions required”, adding that the league planned on opening a disciplinary file.
Barcelona toiled terribly against newly-promoted Real Valladolid, with Ousmane Demebele‘s strike proving to be the difference in this thoroughly uninspiring performance from the reigning La Liga champions.
Dembele’s goal proved decisive at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla, but it was another erratic performance from the youngster, who was hooked soon after.
Star man Lionel Messi endured one of his rare off nights and, worryingly for coach Ernesto Valverde, none of his teammates looked capable of bearing the creative burden – with Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Dembele all below their best.