Sports

Pique silences Espanyol critics to keep Barcelona unbeaten

Pique silences Espanyol critics to keep Barcelona unbeaten

Gerard Moreno put the hosts ahead midway through the second half and Pique equalized with an 82nd-minute header in a heated match at RCDE Stadium.

With only eight minutes left, defender Pique headed home substitute Lionel Messi's free-kick.

It represents Barca's best-ever start to a campaign, bettering the 21 games Pep Guardiola's side went without defeat in 2009-10. "Part of the crowd was insulting my family".

The Spaniard was jeered loudly by the Espanyol fans with every touch of the ball throughout the game in Cornella.

After Pique scored on Sunday he ran off in celebration before approaching a stand packed with Espanyol supporters and putting his finger to his lips.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde described the surface as "dangerous". "His gesture comes as part of the rivalry that is natural in a derby".

In torrid conditions, with the rain pouring down throughout the 90 minutes and puddles forming all over the pitch, Barcelona looked set to see their unbeaten league record taken by Espanyol, who had ended their 29-game unbeaten streak in all competitions last month.

The point made it 22 games without defeat for table-toppers Barca in La Liga this season, a new club record.

However, he could come into contention for the second leg of Barca's Copa del Rey semifinal against Valencia against Thursday. Barcelona eventually eliminated Espanyol by winning the second leg 2-0.

There were also discussions in the tunnel to the changing rooms.

Espanyol coach Quique Sanchez Flores could hand Carlos Sanchez his debut after signing the Colombia midfielder on loan from Fiorentina. "Our fans are above that".

"They are from Cornella, like I said the other day".

As expected, Barcelona dominated possession from the start.

"Of course he's not ready to play right now, we'll try to be cautious with him, just like we were when he was recovering from his previous injury", Valverde said.

Leganes and Getafe could not manage more than a 0-0 draw in the derby between rivals based just south of Madrid.

He said: "A lot of noise is made about a lot of things, and then the fans are normal".

Both teams had half-chances in the latter stages, although neither really threatened to win it as the points were shared in Catalonia.

Leganes is in 11th place.


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