Barcelona 2-2 Girona: Gerard Pique claims point for ten-man Barcelona after Christian Stuani double
By Oliver Young-Myles
Last Updated: 23/09/18 10:27pm
Christian Stuani struck twice to secure Girona a 2-2 draw against 10-man Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Sunday.
Barcelona appeared on course for a routine win when Lionel Messi put them in front early on, but Clement Lenglet's red card following a VAR review for thrusting his forearm into Pere Pons' face after 35 minutes allowed Girona back into it.
On the stroke of half-time, ex-Middlesbrough forward Stuani equalised after capitalising on a statuesque Barcelona defence and the Uruguayan then put the visitors in front early in the second half.
Gerard Pique levelled for Barcelona just past the hour mark with a fine header but despite their dominance, the home side had to settle for a point, which takes them back to the top of the La Liga table on goal difference over Real Madrid.
Messi ran riot against PSV in the Champions League in midweek and he picked up where he left off by opening the scoring with a textbook first-time finish 19 minutes into the contest after being teed up by Arturo Vidal.
Barcelona were well on top at that stage but the complexion of the game changed when Lenglet was sent off. Initially, the referee Jesus Gil Manzano had awarded the Frenchman a free-kick after he had tangled with Pons but after reviewing the incident on a touchline monitor, he deemed that Lenglet had deliberately caught the Girona midfielder with his forearm.
Sergio Busquets shuffled back into defence temporarily and Girona took full advantage of Barcleona's makeshift backline. Stuani reacted quickest to Aday Benitez's cross into the box, ghosting in between Busquets and Pique before sliding his finish under the onrushing Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the net.
Things got even worse for Barcleona six minutes into the second half when Stuani doubled his and Girona's tally with a thumping strike from the edge of the box. Again Pique was partially culpable as he was beaten in a foot-race by Portu and although his shot was well saved by Ter-Stegen, the rebound fell kindly to Stuani who made no mistake with the finish.
Pique made amends on 63 minutes, though, as he rose above a gaggle of Girone defenders to head home after Yassine Bounou's save from a Luis Suarez effort had looped high into the air in the six-yard-box.
That goal saw the momentum swing back into Barcelona's favour for the remainder of the match, but besides a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals and a few speculative Philippe Coutinho shots from distance, the home side never really troubled Girona who were good value for their point.