Thursday, December 12
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Dec 22, 2018 at 5.30pm UK
Celta Vigo
Dembele (10'), Messi (45')
FT(HT: 2-0)



Live Commentary: Barcelona 2-0 Celta Vigo - as it happened

:Headline: Live Commentary: Barcelona 2-0 Celta Vigo - as it happened:
Relive Sports Mole's live commentary of the La Liga clash between Barcelona and Celta Vigo from Camp Nou, which finished 2-0.
By , European Football Editor | 11mo

Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi scored the goals as Barcelona recorded a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo in La Liga on Saturday night.

The victory has seen Barcelona open up a three-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga, and Ernesto Valverde's side will therefore enter 2019 as the division leaders.

Relive how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.

Good afternoon and welcome to Sports Mole's live commentary of the La Liga clash between Barcelona and Celta Vigo from Camp Nou. The Spanish champions have won their last three in the league without conceding a goal to open up a three-point advantage at the summit. Celta, meanwhile, currently sit 10th in Spain's top flight on 21 points, but are only five points off the top six.
The last two La Liga matches between Barcelona and Celta have finished level, including a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in the corresponding match last season. Barcelona thumped Celta 5-0 at Camp Nou in March 2017, but Celta recorded a 1-0 win at the home of Barcelona in November 2014. Celta have won three and drawn two of their last eight La Liga games with Barcelona.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Camp Nou. Both managers had some injury concerns ahead of the match...
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Camp Nou. Both managers had some injury concerns ahead of the match...

BARCA: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Rakitic, Busquets; Dembele, L Suarez, Messi

CELTA: Ruben; Mallo, Araujo, Costas, Mazan; Boufal, Okay, Jozabed, Mendez; Aspas, Gomez

Nelson Semedo is back from a knee problem to start at right-back for Barcelona, while Arturo Vidal and Ousmane Dembele both keep their spots, meaning that Arthur and Philippe Coutinho are only on the bench against Celta. Samuel Umtiti's continued absence with a knee injury means that Clement Lenglet continues in central defence alongside Gerard Pique.
As for Celta, Mathias Jensen is still on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, but head coach Miguel Cardoso had no fresh injury concerns from the team that drew 0-0 with Leganes in the league last weekend. Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez will continue as the front two, while on-loan Southampton attacker Sofiane Boufal also keep his spot in a wide area.
Aspas and Gomez have scored 18 of Celta's 28 league goals this term, and those two will be key to the away side's chances of success in this match. Only Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Cristhian Stuani have scored more La Liga goals than Aspas (10) this term, while Gomez sits fifth in the standings on eight. Barcelona's back four will be tested in this match.
Barcelona have not been without their problems in the first half of the 2018-19 campaign, but they are through in both the Champions League and Copa del Rey, and top La Liga ahead of the final set of league fixtures in 2018. Barcelona have won 10, drawn four and lost two of their 16 league matches to collect 34 points, which has left them three points clear of second-placed Sevilla and third-placed Atletico Madrid. That said, Atletico are currently beating Espanyol 1-0 with 15 minutes left, and are set to join Barcelona on 34 points.
Valverde's side suffered a 4-3 home defeat to Real Betis on November 11, but have been in impressive form in La Liga since then. Indeed, they picked up a point away at Atletico on November 24 before beating Villarreal, Espanyol and Levante in their last three without conceding.
Indeed, Barcelona have scored nine times in their last two league matches away at Espanyol and Levante, and will be full of confidence as they look to end 2018 on a high.
Messi leads the scoring charts in La Liga with 14 goals, while Luis Suarez has 11 league strikes to his name. Ousmane Dembele has had his off-the-field concerns this season, but the Frenchman also has nine goals and five assists in 21 appearances in all competitions this term. Dembele is, at the moment, keeping a certain Philippe Coutinho out of the Barcelona starting XI.
The winter break has probably arrived at a poor time for Barcelona when considering their form in recent weeks. However, their next five in the league are against Celta, Getafe, Eibar, Leganes, Girona, and there is every chance that they could put another 15 points on the board before the end of January. Kickoff at Camp Nou is now just about 30 minutes away.
Valverde's team were conceding too many goals in the opening weeks of the season, but have tightened up in recent weeks and have Luis Suarez, Messi and Dembele in fine form, which spells bad news for the rest of La Liga. Atletico are still 1-0 ahead against Espanyol...

Atletico have beaten Espanyol at the Wanda Metropolitano to join Barcelona on 34 points at the top of La Liga. Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot.

Five wins, six draws and five defeats – that is how Celta have performed in La Liga this season. A total of 21 points from their 16 matches has left them in 10th position, just four points off the top seven. At the moment, a win for Celta tonight would move them into eighth.
Celta have posted three top-half finishes since returning to La Liga in 2012, but they have ended each of the last two campaigns in 13th position. There is every chance that they will improve on that position this time around, but it has once again been an inconsistent season to date.
Celta have not found it difficult to score goals this season, but have been far from watertight down the other end of the field. Indeed, only Huesca, Rayo Vallecano and Levante have conceded more than Celta's 24 La Liga goals this season. They are a team capable of putting up some big results, but find it difficult to keep teams out down the other end.
In terms of recent form, Celta will enter the match off the back of a goalless draw at home to Levante on December 14. They did win 3-2 at Villarreal on December 8, however, and have only lost one of their last four in Spain's top flight. Real Madrid beat them 4-2 last month though, and the team's defensive issues were once again on display in that match.
Barcelona thumped Celta 5-0 at Camp Nou in March 2017, but Celta recorded a 1-0 victory at the home of Barcelona in November 2014. Celta have also won three and drawn two of their last eight La Liga games with Barcelona. It would not be a shock to see Celta take something tonight.
Just a reminder of the two teams tonight...

BARCA: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Rakitic, Busquets; Dembele, L Suarez, Messi

CELTA: Ruben; Mallo, Araujo, Costas, Mazan; Boufal, Okay, Jozabed, Mendez; Aspas, Gomez

It is currently half time in the 2018 Club World Cup final, and Real Madrid lead Al Ain 1-0 courtesy of a strike from Luka Modric. In a few hours, Real Madrid might fell find themselves eight points off the top of La Liga, but the Club World Cup crown would ease the pain.

Celta's recent record against Barcelona is actually quite good, but we expect the Spanish champions to end 2018 with a win on home soil. Messi to score in a 3-1 success.

Here we go then; both sets of players have joined us on the pitch ahead of kickoff at Camp Nou. Will Barcelona end 2018 three points clear at the top of La Liga? Soon find out!
KICKOFF:  Barcelona kick things off on home soil...
... there is no question that Celta have come here to play tonight; there will be no sitting back and hoping to nick a 1-0. Barcelona have been in control of the early possession here.
Not too much to report in the early moments, but Barcelona are in control of the ball as they pass and probe. Celta's first shot of the match has come from Boufal, but it was deflected and dropped harmlessly wide of the post. The resulting corner is then cleared.
Dembele is down the left for Barcelona and delivers a wonderful cross towards the far post, but Vidal just fails to make contact. Semedo then attacks the opposite side moments later.
Barcelona force a couple of corners in quick succession, but Celta manage to clear their lines on both occasions. The away side then break clear through Aspas, but he cannot run away from Alba. Plenty of attacking intent from both teams in the first eight minutes here.
Just a few signs that Barcelona are settling the game down here.
Barcelona take the lead in the 10th minute of this match as Dembele slots through the legs of the Celta goalkeeper, who had initially made a smart save to keep out Messi!
Celta are just struggling at the back at the moment as Barcelona make ground in the wide positions, with Alba very lively as he continues to link up with the flying Dembele.
I would be extremely surprised if we had seen the last of the goals in this match, and Celta will fancy their chances of scoring with Aspas and Gomez in the final third of the field.
Rakitic comes close to lifting a pass into Messi, but Blanco is on hand to collect.
Alba looks to have a problem for Barcelona as he hits the deck and stays there following a last-man challenge from Mallo. Might have been a shout for a red card there!
Alba seems fine to continue.
Mendez smashes the ball at Lenglet and Celta want a penalty, but it would have been very harsh. The referee is not interested and instead signals for a corner kick.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last few minutes, but Celta are enjoying a good spell as they continue to put the pressure on Barcelona's defence.
OFF THE LINE!  Excellent defending from Araujo, who manages to clear an effort off the line after Blanco had come out to challenge Dembele. The Frenchman stays on the ground.
It is a very open game at the moment as Celta commit players forward.
SAVE!  Really smart save from Ter Stegen to keep out a strike from Gomez!
Celta continue to commit numbers forward each time they have the chance to break, and that is giving Barcelona plenty of space on the counter-attack. Surely more goals to come here.
Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining, and Barcelona have the lead courtesy of a smart finish from Dembele, but both teams have good opportunities since then.
We have not seen an awful lot from Luis Suarez in the first 31 minutes of this match, with Dembele outshining the Uruguay international thus far. Dembele has been so dangerous.
SHOT!  Luis Suarez has just sent a shot harmlessly wide of the post.
CLOSE!  Messi misses the post with a chipped effort from a wide position.
Pique has been excellent in the first 35 minutes of this match, with the centre-back coming across to deny Aspas once again. No change from his Spain teammate thus far tonight.
Few players in the wars at the moment as Rakitic receives some treatment while Celta goalkeeper Blanco has some blood wiped off his eye following a collision with Costas.
Little over five minutes of the first period remaining, and Blanco has been stitched up. The Celta goalkeeper has a really nasty cut above his eye, which has been cleaned.
Messi attempts to dance away from a number of challenges inside the Celta box, but eventually the danger is cleared. Still 1-0 as we approach the half-time break here.
SHOT!  Mallo smashes wide of the Barcelona post from a narrow angle.
Celta continue to cause problems in the final third as Gomez and Aspas pull into wide positions. The former has just had a cross blocked behind for another corner kick.
Gomez takes the ball away from Pique in a dangerous position, but the referee blows his whistle. Perhaps harsh on Gomez, who would have been through into the Barcelona box.
Barcelona double their lead in the final minute of the first period as Messi collects a pass from Alba before finding the bottom corner with a brilliant low effort.
So there have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Barcelona leading Celta 2-0 courtesy of goals from Dembele and Messi. Dembele sent Barcelona on their way in the 10th minute before Messi doubled the home side's advantage just before the interval.
STATISTICS! Barcelona had 59% of the ball in the first period, and hit the target with four of their five attempts. Celta, meanwhile, managed one shot on target from four attempts. Just the one yellow card, which came for Celta forward Iago Aspas late in the first period.
BENCH WATCH! Sisto, Kevin and Beltran are among those on the Celta bench tonight, while Barcelona have the likes of Alena, Coutinho, Arthur and Denis Suarez in reserve. It would not be a surprise to see Coutinho appear at some point in the second 45 minutes of action.
KICKOFF:  Celta resume the action here...
... CELTA SUB! Yokuslu is replaced by Lobotka.
It would be fair to say that Celta need to score the next goal if they are to stand a chance of picking up a positive result tonight. Barcelona are very comfortable at this stage.
Not too much to report in the early stages of the second period, but Barcelona have been in control of the possession. Celta need something and fairly quickly here.
Celta are doing their best to work something in the final third, but Barcelona are defending high and continue to regain the ball. Still 2-0 with 52 minutes on the clock here.
CELTA SUB! Aspas has a problem for Celta, and he is replaced by Beltran.
Big blow for Celta to lose their leading scorer at this stage of the match, and Barcelona are moving through the gears here as they attempt to score a third.
CLOSE!  Mendez just misses the Barcelona post with a curling effort!
Little over 30 minutes of this La Liga clash remaining, and Barcelona still lead 2-0. Messi has just attempted to slide a pass into Luis Suarez inside the box, but Costas clears.
CLOSE!  Luis Suarez breaks into the Celta box, but fires just wide!
BARCELONA SUB! Arthur replaces Vidal for the home side.
Luis Suarez will be desperate to get his name on the scoresheet in what is left of this match. Messi and Dembele continue to look for the Uruguay international in the final third.
Coutinho is getting ready to come on, and might take Dembele's place here.
CHANCE!  Couple of big chances for Barcelona, but Blanco makes a smart save to deny Dembele and Messi just cannot bundle home from close range under pressure from Mallo.
BARCELONA SUB! Coutinho replaces Dembele for the home side.
Not an awful lot of chances in the second half, but a goal for Celta at this stage would certainly make things interesting. Still a solid 20 minutes of football to play in this match.
Just a reminder that a win for Barcelona would move them three points clear of Atletico at the top of the league. Celta have not offered much since Aspas was replaced here.
CELTA SUB! Sisto replaces Boufal for Celta.
Little over 10 minutes of the second period remaining, and not too much is happening at the moment. Celta have just had a corner, but it was harmlessly cleared.
CHANCE!  Another corner comes into the Celta box and this one does cause trouble, but Beltran cannot turn home at the far post under pressure from Luis Suarez.
Celta are doing their best to upset Barcelona, but the home side continue to keep the ball as the clock ticks on. The champions are closing on another important three points here.
SAVE!  Comfortable save for Ter Stegen to keep out Beltran's effort.
Possession football from Celta, but they are not really threatening a goal here.
Luis Suarez races away down the right, but the striker does look tired, and concedes possession. The clock continues to tick on with Barcelona leading 2-0 on home soil.
BARCELONA SUB! Alena replaces Busquets for the home side.
Pass, pass, pass from Barcelona as we approach the 90th minute here.
We are into the first of three additional minutes at Camp Nou.
Barcelona have a free kick in a dangerous area as Alba is felled...
... Messi's effort misses the crossbar.
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Barcelona running out 2-0 winners over Celta to move three points clear at the top of the table. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live commentary once again. Until next time!
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