Ansu Fati's superb second-half strike gave Barcelona rare reason to cheer as they boosted their Champions League hopes with a 1-0 win at Dynamo Kiev.

Interim coach Sergi Barjuan saw Barca held to a 1-1 draw by Alaves in his first game in charge and his team were second best for long periods here.

But, amid talk of Barca being set to appoint club legend Xavi as Ronald Koeman's replacement, Sergi's team claimed a narrow win that means he can hand the reins to his successor with their position in Europe much healthier.

It was Fati's vicious close-range strike that made the difference in Kiev, the teenager rifling home in the 70th minute to send Barca second in Group E on Tuesday.

A promising start from Barca soon faded, with the visitors failing to produce a single shot on target in the first half.

It was only the wayward finishing of Mykola Shaparenko that prevented Barca from going into the interval behind, the midfielder twice shooting wide at the end of well-worked moves either side of Marc-Andre ter Stegen denying Carlos de Pena.

The same story played out in the early stages of the second half, with Barca struggling to create anything of note against a Dynamo defence that looked comfortable for much of the contest.

Fati looked to have won Barca a penalty in the 64th minute when he went down in the box, only for VAR to rule he had kicked his own leg, but he did then provide the crucial breakthrough by emphatically dispatching Oscar Mingueza's deflected cross.

Ter Stegen produced a fine diving save to prevent Viktor Tsygankov from equalising, Dynamo left waiting for their first goal of the campaign as Barca took a step towards the knockout stages.

Pep Guardiola urged former Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero to prioritise his health and be careful in his recovery from treatment for a suspected cardiovascular problem.

Aguero, who ended a 10-year spell with City at the end of last season, had to be substituted during Barcelona's 1-1 LaLiga draw with Deportivo Alaves on Saturday after feeling dizzy and suffering apparent discomfort in his chest.

The City great was sent to hospital for a cardiac exam and will now not be available for Barca until at least February, with treatment in that time set to determine the extent of his recovery process.

The news came as a shock for Barca given Aguero had started just two games for the club since joining from City, and the Argentinian has been in Guardiola's thoughts.

"I sent a message to him through his agent," Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday. "It's difficult news for him and his family.

"We wish him – everyone at Manchester City from the staff to the chairman, all the people – a safe recovery, doesn't matter the time.

"Health is more important than anything else. I'm sure he's in very good hands, with the best doctors.

"He will take care of himself. I wish him the best recovery as possible and he can come back to play again, otherwise he [can] enjoy his life and enjoy what he has done.

"I don't know what he has, but now he knows it [that there is something wrong], he has to be careful and safe for the rest of his life."

Kyle Walker joined Guardiola for media duties ahead of a Champions League game against Club Brugge and was also rocked by the situation affecting Aguero, a team-mate of his for four years.

Walker also played at Tottenham alongside Christian Eriksen, who is yet to return to the pitch since suffering a cardiac arrest during Denmark's first Euro 2020 match, and such scares seemed to put life into perspective for the England international.

"It's a shock when it happens to anyone," Walker said. "I played with Christian [Eriksen]. You think about them and the family. I'm glad they're okay.

"We're all fit athletes and train hard every day. You have to take precautions and his health is more important than football at the minute.

"We're all human in more ways than one. We make mistakes, we put in good performances. Health is key, without health you're nothing.

"As long as Sergio's okay… I know Christian is because I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago. I spoke to him on text, said I hope he's okay.

"I played in the game at Spurs when [Fabrice] Muamba went down. Seeing it happen with a few people which isn't nice.

"The main priority is health, [Aguero] should take as much time, being fit and healthy is the main priority."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is seeking a second away victory in a week as the Champions League returns, with the 3-0 success at Tottenham on Sunday being his first in six domestic games.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri will also be hoping for a win to seal qualification from Group H with two games to spare, having lost back-to-back Serie A matches.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea will expect more of the same after they both won 4-0 against their opponents last time out in the Champions League.

Stats Perform pick out the key Opta facts ahead of Tuesday's Champions League action.

 

Atalanta v Manchester United: Ronaldo aiming to hurt Italians once more

United are looking to record their 150th victory in the European Cup/Champions League, which would make them the first English side to reach this milestone, and fourth overall after Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Having failed to win in five domestic games prior to Sunday, pressure was starting to pile on Solskjaer. A third win in a row in the Champions League will boost confidence further.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be aiming to break Atalanta hearts as he did when he scored the winner in a 3-2 turnaround at Old Trafford on matchday three. Since returning to United, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in all three of his Champions League appearances – the last player to score in four consecutive appearances for the club in the competition was Ruud van Nistelrooy in April 2003.

3 - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in three consecutive Champions League games for Manchester United for the second time, previously doing so in November 2007 en route to winning the trophy with the Red Devils. Inevitable. pic.twitter.com/eEYYnJpGV0

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 20, 2021

 

Juventus v Zenit Saint Petersburg: Allegri can cheer up Old Lady by sealing qualification

Things are not looking great for Juventus domestically, trailing Napoli and Milan at the top of Serie A by 16 points after Allegri's men were beaten by Sassuolo and Hellas Verona.

It has been a much smoother Champions League campaign so far, though, as the Turin side have won all three Group H games and will secure qualification to the knockout stage with a win against Zenit.

This will be Juve's 10th time facing Russian opponents in European competition, winning eight of the previous nine (D1) and they have kept six clean sheets. Zenit are also winless in their past nine away games in the Champions League (D1 L8). This is their longest run without an away win in the European Cup/Champions League.

 

Malmo v Chelsea: Blues can expect more goals in Sweden

Chelsea will be confident of another comfortable win against Malmo to go within a point of sealing qualification to the knockout stage. No team has conceded more goals than the Swedish side (11) in the Champions League this season, while only Besiktas (11.1) have a higher expected goals against total than their 8.7.

The holders are unbeaten in their seven meetings with Swedish teams to date, winning four and drawing three against them across all competitions. The past three have all been against Malmo, with each of them ending in Chelsea victories.

Malmo have lost seven of their eight previous games against English opponents in European competition, including each of the most recent four. The only time they have avoided defeat in such games came against Nottingham Forest in September 1995, winning 2-1 in the UEFA Cup.

 

Bayern Munich v Benfica: Bundesliga champions to mark milestone with another win?

This clash with Benfica will be Bayern’s 500th game across all European competitions, becoming only the third team to reach this milestone, after Barcelona (587) and Real Madrid (575). A win would not only be a fitting way to mark the occasion, but will also see them clinch qualification from Group E.

Bayern are unbeaten in all 11 of their meetings with Benfica in European competition, with eight of those ending in victories for the Bundesliga champions. They have faced Benfica more times without losing than against any of their other opponents in European competition.

It is also set to be a historic night for Robert Lewandowski, who could be in line to make his 100th Champions League appearance. The Poland striker has netted 78 goals in the competition to date, which is already the most by a player through their first 100 appearances in the Champions League.

Other fixtures:

Dynamo Kiev v Barcelona

11 – Dynamo Kiev's last victory against a Spanish team in the Champions League came back in March 1999, beating Real Madrid 2-0 in a quarter-final clash. Since then, they have faced Spanish opponents on 11 occasions in the competition and failed to win all of them (D3 L8).

9 – Since the start of the 2018-19 season, no full-back has provided more assists in the Champions League than the nine from Barcelona's Jordi Alba. This is three times as many as any other current Barcelona player in the same period (Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, 3).

Villarreal v Young Boys

8 – Arnaut Danjuma has generated eight shots following carries (moving five or more metres with the ball) for Villareal in the Champions League this season (six shots and two chances created) – only Vinicius Junior (10) and Jack Grealish (9) have produced more.

10 – Young Boys have not kept a clean sheet in any of their past 10 games in the European Cup/Champions League (W2 D1 L7), with their last one coming back in September 1986 versus Real Madrid (1-0).

Wolfsburg v Salzburg

1 – Wolfsburg have lost just one of their nine home matches in the Champions League (W6 D2) and remain unbeaten in six on home soil in the competition since a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in December 2009.

3 – Salzburg could become the first Austrian side to win three consecutive European Cup/Champions League matches since Rapid Vienna in 1982.

Sevilla v Lille

1 – Sevilla have only lost one of their past seven home games in the group stage of the Champions League (W4 D2), with that lone defeat coming against Chelsea in December 2020.

3 – Since scoring in six consecutive Champions League appearances between October 2012 and March 2013 for Galatasaray, Lille striker Burak Yilmaz has only scored in three of his past 20 appearances in the competition.

Nuno Espirito Santo's replacement at Tottenham will be no surprise.

Antonio Conte had been rumoured as the top choice.

The ex-Inter man looks set to make it official on Tuesday, barring any late hitches.

 

TOP STORY – CONTE SET FOR SPURS MOVE

With Nuno Espirito Santo officially out, Antonio Conte is set to step in at Tottenham.

According to widespread reports, Conte has agreed a contract through June 2023 and the move will be finalised on Tuesday.

The 52-year-old left Inter by mutual consent after last season.

The Sun claims Spurs will give Conte £150million to spend on new players.

 

ROUND-UP 

- Paul Pogba prefers Paris Saint-Germain over Real Madrid or Juventus once he makes his expected departure from Manchester United, Fichajes reports.

- PSG are eyeing Karim Adeyemi as a potential replacement should Kylian Mbappe leave, Sky Sport in Germany reports. The 19-year-old Red Bull Salzburg striker also has drawn interest from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

- Real Madrid's Marco Asensio will be in demand in January, with El Nacional reporting Liverpool, Arsenal, Juventus, Milan and Dortmund all have offers ready.

- Arsenal are eyeing Torino striker Andrea Belotti, says Calciomercato.

- Villarreal's Unai Emery is the new favourite to take over as Newcastle United manager, says the Mirror.

Barcelona striker Sergio Aguero will be out for three months while he undergoes treatment for a suspected cardiovascular problem.

Aguero had to be substituted during the 1-1 LaLiga draw with Deportivo Alaves after feeling dizzy and suffering apparent discomfort in his chest.

The former Manchester City star was sent to hospital for a cardiac exam and will now not be available for Barca until at least February.

A club statement confirmed: "The first team player Sergio Aguero has been subjected to a diagnostic and therapeutic process by Dr.Josep Brugada.

"He is unavailable for selection and during the next three months the effectiveness of treatment will be evaluated in order to determine his recovery process."

Aguero has only started two games since joining Barca following the end of his spectacular 10-year spell in the Premier League.

The Catalans face Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday in a key Champions League clash in Group E, in which they are third after three matches.

Gaizka Mendieta has compared the impact made on football by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to that of Johan Cruyff.

In an exclusive interview with Stats Perform, the former Spain international said he believes that Guardiola has "changed the game" in every country he has worked in, starting with his time at one of Mendieta's former clubs, Barcelona.

Guardiola has won nine domestic league titles across his time at Barca, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, along with nine domestic cups, two UEFA Champions Leagues, three UEFA Super Cups and three FIFA Club World Cups.

Asked where he would rank Guardiola in an all-time list of best managers, Mendieta said "Well, certainly top, I don't know, [I] have not made that list yet, but top three, top five.

"I have not seen in my career from outside or through other players, managers that can impact the game as much as he does, like he's done since he started at Barca B, of course Barca and so on. How he reads games, how he, by moving or changing the position of players, impacts the game so much. Certainly there are not many like him.

"I can think of maybe [Johan] Cruyff, you know, some of the legends that have changed the game throughout the years. Because also wherever he's been, in Spain, Italy, Germany, he's had an impact on the league, on the national league and also on the national team.

"Spain played differently because he changed Barca's idea, Germany changed the way they play because he changed Bayern's idea. England changed maybe a bit less, but still you could see England trying to play how City kind of plays.

"Why? Because you could see like six, seven players from Barcelona in the Spanish national team. Same in Germany, you could see five, six players from Bayern. And the same for England's national team. So, I think that's what he gives to football, wherever he goes, he impacts the game."

Sergi Barjuan says the Barcelona players can feel the pressure ahead of their crunch Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev but knows a win will change the tense mood at the club.

A 1-1 home draw in LaLiga against Deportivo Alaves on Saturday did little to lift spirits at Camp Nou following Ronald Koeman's sacking.

Barca will now travel to Kiev for a crucial contest that will play a huge part in determining their prospects of progression in Europe.

A 1-0 win in the reverse fixture gave Barca their first points in Group E but they still trail Bayern Munich and Benfica with three matches to play.

"The players need to find a way, whatever way they can, to achieve this victory," said interim head coach Sergi. "The players are under a lot of pressure, Tuesday is special and it depends on them. 

"They have everything in their hands. They need to be organised and be the Barcelona that we want and hope for.

"This is enormous for me too – to be the coach in a Champions League match after being a player. 

"You would ask a thousand coaches and they would want to be in my position. As a cule I wish the best for the club and I am going to try everything I can to solve this situation.

"It is difficult to find a smile in the dressing room in these tough moments but finding our style, being the protagonists and being a team will lead us to joy. Winning on Tuesday would help change the mood."

Barca have only scored one goal in the Champions League this season, which is their lowest goal tally after three games of a single campaign in the competition's history.

Sergi added: "The players are used to any scenario and any kind of pressure. We will be better if we play without anxiety, if we are calm with the ball, if we know how to find the spaces. 

"In training we insisted on the need to be organised and be ourselves, to play with the essence of Barca that we want. 

"We need to find a way to achieve this victory and to enjoy it and to bring back some positivity and joy to the fans as well.

"At Barca you always have to win. We can only make ourselves respected by winning. They all know what's on the table." 

There was a boost for Sergi as defender Ronald Araujo returning to training on Monday, while Ansu Fati, Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto also took part after knocks.

Forward Ousmane Dembele, who is yet to play this season, was also named in the 23-man squad for the game.

"This game is so important because if we win then our fate is in our own hands once more," added defender Eric Garcia, who also faced the media. 

"We all know how difficult it will be due to the trip and the weather. At home they made life tricky for us and away will be no different. Nevertheless, the team is ready mentally and physically.

"Frenkie and Ronald are key players for us and Ansu and Ousmane are players who can win games. It's great news they are back." 

Having lost 3-0 to Benfica in their last away game, Barca are bidding to avoid losing consecutive matches on the road in the competition for the first time since April 2017.

The last occasion that happened in the group stage was back in September 2014, though Barca are at least on a five-game Champions League winning streak against Dynamo that spans 12 years.

Lionel Messi felt "hurt" when it emerged Barcelona president Joan Laporta had hoped the six-time Ballon d'Or winner would play for free in order to stay at Camp Nou.

Messi left Barcelona in August after spending his entire professional career to that point with the club, his contract having expired at the end of June.

Barca expected Messi to be re-signed after they agreed a new contract with him, but LaLiga ultimately blocked them from doing so as the league refused to let the Blaugrana circumvent salary cap rules.

Due to suffering €480million in losses over the previous financial year, during which their debts increased to €1.4billion, Barca saw their salary cap reduced by €280m for 2021-22.

That left them with a spending limit of €97m, less than a seventh of Real Madrid's cap (€739m), and a smaller budget than five other clubs.

As such, Barca had to reduce wage spending significantly, but even Messi's agreed contract being worth only 50 per cent of his previous deal was not going to be enough and the club eventually accepted retaining him was an impossibility, allowing Paris Saint-Germain to make their move.

Laporta said last month that, while he bears no anger towards Messi, he hoped there would be a last-minute change "and Messi would say that he would play for free", comments that seemingly did not sit well with the Argentinian.

 

"The truth is that, as I explained on my way out, I did everything possible to stay," Messi told Sport. "Never at any time was I asked to play for free.

"I was asked to cut my salary by 50 per cent and I did it without any problem. We were in a position to help the club more. The desire and desire of me and my family was to stay in Barcelona.

"Nobody asked me to play for free, but at the same time it seems to me that the words said by the president are out of place.

"They hurt me because I think he doesn't need to say it, it's like getting the ball off you and not assuming its consequences, or taking charge of things.

"This makes people think or generates a type of doubt that I think I don't deserve."

Messi signed a two-year contact with Paris Saint-Germain, at the end of which he will be 36 years old.

Nuno Espirito Santo's future as Tottenham manager is in doubt after a slow start.

The Portuguese only took over in June but his side are eighth in the Premier League with five losses already.

Spurs were humbled 3-0 at home by under-pressure Manchester United on Saturday.

Supporters made their feelings known at full-time as boos rung out around Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

TOP STORY – SPURS READY TO REPLACE NUNO

Tuttomercato claims that Tottenham are working on a deal to have ex-Inter boss Antonio Conte replace Nuno Espirito Santo as manager.

Football Insider also reports that Spurs will sack Nuno this week, with Ryan Mason to be installed as their interim boss again.

The Standard claims that Porto head coach Sergio Conceicao is also under consideration for the job.

 

ROUND-UP 

- Le Parisien reports that Paris Saint-Germain could sensationally walk away from their contract with off-season signing Sergio Ramos, who is yet to debut for the club due to ongoing injury issues from his time at Real Madrid. PSG are said to believe they were misled about his injury status.

- Barcelona are interested in a loan deal for Manchester United's wantaway Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek, reports Sport.

- Real Madrid are considering moves for Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger, claims Marca.

- Theo Hernandez will ignore Manchester City 's advances and pen a new deal with Milan, reports Calciomercato.

- Tuttosport reports hot property Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic wants to join Juventus amid interest from Tottenham, among others.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi wants to return to Barcelona after his playing days in an off-field role as technical secretary.

Messi spent two decades at Barcelona, becoming the club's all-time leading scorer and appearance maker, before joining PSG ahead of the 2021-22 season after the embattled LaLiga giants were unable to re-sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner due to their financial situation.

But Messi expressed his passion for Barca, where he won a club-record 35 trophies, including 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns.

"Yes, I always said that I would like to come back to help the club in whatever way," Messi, who is yet to score a Ligue 1 goal for PSG, told Sport.

"I want to be useful and help so that the club is doing well. I would love to be a technical secretary, but I don't know if it will be at Barcelona.

"I would like to return to the club to contribute what I can because I love [Barcelona] and I would love them to keep doing well, to continue growing and to continue to be among the best in the world."

Messi had come close to leaving Barca in 2020 amid links with Manchester City, PSG and Inter, growing dissatisfied with the direction of the club, with a release clause in his contract leading to him staying.

Barcelona have endured a difficult campaign since Messi's departure sitting ninth in LaLiga, leading to the sacking of head coach Ronald Koeman.

Spanish side Barca have taken 16 points from 11 games in LaLiga this season (W4 D4 L3) – equalling their worst start at this stage in the three points for a win era (also 16 in the 2000-2001 and 2002-03 campaigns).

Barcelona are set to be without Gerard Pique for their key Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev this week.

The centre-back was substituted after 70 minutes of the 1-1 LaLiga draw with Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou on Saturday.

The club confirmed Pique had discomfort in his calf and further tests have revealed a muscle strain that will keep him out of action "for the foreseeable future".

It means the 34-year-old is almost certain to miss the match in Ukraine on Tuesday and next Saturday's league visit to Celta Vigo, Barca's final game before the November international break.

Pique scored the winner in the reverse fixture against Dynamo, a result that put the Catalans a point behind second-placed Benfica in Group E after three rounds of matches.

He has played 13 times this season in all competitions.

Barca are also likely to be without Sergio Aguero after the striker was taken to hospital for a cardiac exam, having felt dizzy before being taken off during the Alaves game.

However, there was better news on Sunday, with Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati and Frenkie de Jong all able to complete part of team training.

What does the future hold for Paul Pogba?

Pogba, who re-joined Manchester United from Juventus in 2016, is set to become a free agent at season's end.

Juve are believed to be trying to lure Pogba back to Italy.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE LEAD RACE FOR POGBA

Juventus are in pole position to re-sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United, according to Sportitalia journalist Rudy Galetti.

Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and is reportedly not prepared to sign a new contract with United.

The World Cup-winning France international left United for Juventus in 2012 before returning to Old Trafford in 2016.

Le10 Sport, meanwhile, claims Paris Saint-Germain are circling amid interest from Real Madrid also.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Xavi wants to sign Bayern Munich star Kingsley Coman if he is appointed head coach of LaLiga giants Barcelona . Barca great and Al-Sadd boss Xavi is favourite to replace Ronald Koeman.

Theo Hernandez is set to snub a move to Premier League champions Manchester City or Ligue 1 powerhouse PSG in favour of re-signing with Milan, per Calciomercato.

- The Mirror says Newcastle United are struggling to prise Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag from Amsterdam. Also linked to Manchester United amid pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer , Ten Hag is reluctant to move to Newcastle due to their position in the table.

Inter have planned talks with Marcelo Brozovic regarding a new contract amid interest from PSG , Manchester United , Barca and Atletico Madrid , according to Corriere dello Sport.

Jordi Alba lamented Barcelona's "bad point" after the embattled LaLiga giants were held to a 1-1 draw by Deportivo Alaves.

Barca – playing for the first time since Ronald Koeman's sacking – saw Memphis Depay's sublime 49th-minute strike cancelled out within three minutes at Camp Nou on Saturday.

Spanish side Barca have taken 16 points from 11 games in LaLiga this season (W4 D4 L3) – equalling their worst start at this stage in the three points for a win era (also 16 in the 2000-2001 and 2002-03 campaigns).

"It's a bad point," star Barca full-back Alba told Movistar. "Anything other than three points for Barcelona is bad and even more so when you see where we are in the table.

"We did enough, but we're struggling to score and teams are scoring against us with very little. It's tough. The team is trying, but it's complicated." 

Sergi Barjuan has stepped in to replace Koeman on an interim basis amid growing links with club great Xavi, who is currently head coach of Qatari outfit Al-Sadd.

Sergi became the first Barcelona coach without a win in his LaLiga debut since Pep Guardiola in 2008.

"They're different coaches, but the idea is the same," Alba said when asked about Koeman and Sergi. "We had very clear chances.

"I hope we can improve, for our own good. We're grateful to the fans that are with us in difficult moments."

Barca are ninth in the standings after 11 rounds, eight points behind leading trio Real Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad.

Sergio Aguero was taken to hospital following his early substitution against Deportivo Alaves, Barcelona have confirmed.

The Argentina international was making his first LaLiga start at Camp Nou, but was replaced by Philippe Coutinho after just 41 minutes.

Aguero went down clutching his chest and was tended to by the medical team, although he was able to get to his feet and walk from the field.

The club later confirmed the former Manchester City striker had complained of chest discomfort and had been admitted to hospital for a cardiac exam.

Barca also lost Gerard Pique to a right calf strain during the 1-1 draw.

"[Aguero] told me he was a little dizzy," interim coach Sergi Barjuan told Marca. 

"Now, I have learned that he has been taken to the hospital. I can't say more.

"Between cheering on the guys and the press conference, it's hard to know more."

The stalemate marked Sergi's first match in temporary charge following the departure of Ronald Koeman earlier this week.

Memphis Depay's sublime strike was immediately cancelled out by Luis Rioja and despite just under 80 per cent of possession and 16 shots on goal, the hosts were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

"We controlled the game, and we were intense in the second half," Sergi continued.

"We had our chances to score and win the game, but we could not take them.

"I have had very little time to work with the players. I have tried to get them in order in both a defensive and an offensive level.

"But, these players are very good, and they have to believe in themselves."

Barcelona's struggles continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou in their first game since the dismissal of Ronald Koeman.

Under the temporary stewardship of Sergi Barjuan, Memphis Depay opened the scoring early in the second half as the hosts sought to overcome consecutive LaLiga losses. 

But the Blaugrana were pegged back almost immediately as Luis Rioja netted a fine equaliser for the visitors.

Another concern for Barca saw a distressed Sergio Aguero forced off before half-time on his first home LaLiga start.

Barcelona had won eight of their nine previous meetings with Alaves and quickly stamped their authority in possession.

They went close to breaking the deadlock when Eric Garcia's header was brilliantly clawed away by Antonio Sivera, while an unmarked Edgar Mendez nodded Ruben Duarte's deep free-kick just wide at the other end.

Concerns grew for the hosts when Aguero was forced to leave the field before the break.

The Argentina international went down clutching his chest and appeared to be in some discomfort when tended to by the medical team, but was able to get to his feet and walk from the field.

Nevertheless, Barca took the lead in emphatic fashion four minutes after the restart; Depay bending a tremendous 25-yard effort into the far corner for his fifth goal of the season.

However, the visitors hit back within three minutes; Rioja playing a neat one-two with Joselu before rounding Marc-Andre ter Stegen and slotting into the empty net.

Barca looked to restore their advantage and Sivera produced smart saves to deny Philippe Coutinho and Depay, who also hit the post following a wonderful individual run by Gavi.

But despite dominating possession, the hosts were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.