Only a few days after we called him a flop in a previous post, Iago Aspas popped up once more to prove us wrong. The former Liverpool striker who was signed by Brendan Rodgers for a fee estimated between £7-9 million and went on to play only eight games in two seasons scoring only once in the cup before being sold back to Spain for under £4 million, played a starring role as Celta Vigo ended Barcelona’s unbeaten start to the season with an emphatic 4-1 win. A brace from Aspas and solo efforts from Nolito and John Guidetti secured the win with Brazilian striker Neymar adding a consolation goal for Barcelona as Celta Vigo maintain their good start to the season. The win saw Celta temporarily leap-frog Barcelona to the top of La Liga, only to be displaced later that night after Real Madrid secured all three points in their match against Athletic Club Bilbao. Celta Vigo now occupy second spot in the league after four wins and a draw including impressive wins over Sevilla, Levante and now Barcelona.
Going into the match, Barcelona had won all four of their opening league fixtures including confidence building wins over Athletic Club Bilbao and rivals Atletico Madrid and looked to be hitting their stride. With Neymar, Messi and Suarez all back in form, Barcelona were clear favourites to win this match up but Celta Vigo had other plans. Despite having the lions share of the chances and possession, Barcelona struggled to break down the plucky side from Spain’s north west coast. Celta on the other hand managed to take their limited opportunities well and exploit Barcelona’s shaky defence time after time. From the off, it was clear that Celta believed that they could get a result and within 26 minutes they had the lead. After some clever interplay between the defence and midfield, the ball fell to right back Hugo Mallo on the flank who fired in a cross into the box for Aspas to attack. However his cross was too long and sailed over the striker, landing instead at the feet of Nolito on the edge of the area. The former Barcelona B player controlled the ball perfectly before curling a shot up and over Marc ter Stegen in the Barca goal to give Celta the lead.
Celta’s second came only four minutes later thanks largely to some sloppy defending by Gerard Pique. The Spanish international failed to control a looping back pass at the half way line then had his follow-up clearance blocked by Nolito who headed the ball to Aspas sending him clear. Now in a straight race with Pique, Aspas bared down on goal and with ter Stegen rushing out coolly lifted the ball over the German goalkeeper to make it 2-0 as half time approached. In the second half, Barcelona looked to have been reinvigorated by Luis Enrique’s team talk and started brightly with Luis Suarez hitting the post after some good play by Iniesta. But it would be Celta and that man Aspas who would score next with a fantastic counter attacking move. Defending against a corner, Celta managed to clear their lines well pushing the ball out to Aspas on the right flank. With only Dani Alves to beat, Aspas lifted the ball over the Brazilian at the half way line and then raced onto goal before slotting past ter Stegen to make it 3-0.
With ten minutes left to play, Barcelona finally found a way through the Celta defence and past the impressive Sergio Alvarez in-goal. Messi’s perfectly placed ball over the top was latched onto by Neymar who controlled with his left foot, fired it across Alvarez and into the bottom corner for 3-1. But Barcelona’s revival didn’t last long with substitute John Guidetti, on for Aspas firing in Celta’s fourth goal from close range after some good wing work by Hugo Mallo. The former Manchester City, Celtic and Stoke striker who played a pivotal role in Sweden’s under 21 European Championship winning team during the summer only joined in July and has yet to start a game with Celta coach Eduardo Berizzo preferring to use him as an option form the bench. But now after scoring his first goal for the club, Guidetti will be pushing for a starting berth. Standing in his way however is Nolito and the in form Iago Aspas who is proving many of his doubters wrong with some superb performances this season.
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