Why always Lahoz?! Barcelona winners, losers and ratings as infamous referee loses the plot in Espanyol draw

Comments (0)
Lahoz Barcelona GFX
The official stole the show at Camp Nou, handing out a record number of cards for a Liga match as the Blaugrana were held in the derby

Jordi Alba kept talking, barking at a defiant referee. He had just been booked for bickering with the official after a dubious challenge. Not to be deterred, the veteran full back continued to argue. It was, perhaps, just the excuse that the card-happy Antonio Mateu Lahoz needed.

The referee dramatically flashed a second yellow, before brandishing a red to send Alba trudging off the pitch. Another red card and four more yellows followed in the ensuing 15 minutes, as Lahoz let a loose Catalan derby run wild.

The run up to this contest had been marked by controversy. Robert Lewandowski - due to be suspended for three matches - saw his ban delayed after Barca filed an official protest with Spanish footballing authorities. Espanyol released a statement condemning La Liga's decision and announced their executives would be boycotting the game.

And it delivered on the dramatic setup. Marcos Alonso opened the scoring inside 10 minutes with a neat finish from a corner, and Barcelona continued to threaten.

Lewandowski missed narrowly, Ansu Fati curled wide, Alonso fired over from close range and Raphinha fizzed a shot into Alvaro Fernandez's chest, but Barca couldn't find a second.

And they were made to pay as Espanyol stuck in the game and saw their influence grow over the course of the second half. Alonso then handed them a lifeline with 20 minutes remaining, tripping Joselu in the box, who dutifully tucked away the spot kick.

Barcelona pushed for a winner, but couldn't beat Fernandez, who produced a pair of big saves inside the last 10 minutes to earn his team a point after both sides were reduced to 10 men.

Barca, then, miss the chance to go back to the top of the Liga table after Real Madrid's win on Friday, but all eyes were on one man at Camp Nou...

  1. The Winners
    Getty Images

    The Winners


    The Spanish midfielder equipped himelf well in the middle of the park, proving the be the only real cool head in Barca's rotating midfield cast. He completed 90 percent of his passes, and was a threat driving into the final third against a dogged Espanyol unit. Pedri clearly benefits from having Ousmane Dembele on the pitch, and sent a flurry of probing passes towards the Frenchman deep into the second half.

    Andreas Christensen:

    Joselu was a real handful for Barcelona, but Christensen kept him mostly in control. The Dane was up for the aerial battle with the big Spaniard, and also made some key clearances when Espanyol looked to attack on the break. With Sergi Roberto far from his best, Christensen was also called upon for some extra leg work down his right, which he handled with aplomb. In a game where Barcelona had few standouts, Christensen was a rare bright spot.

    The Espanyol board:

    Espanyol issued a strongly-worded statement following the suspension of Robert Lewandowski's three-match ban, and announced that their senior executives would not be at the game. And although Barca's No.9 was on the pitch on Saturday, the visitors' board had the last laugh here. Lewandowski endured a difficult afternoon, missing twice from close range and failing to impact the game with his usual fluid link-up play. So, while their complaints were unheard, the source of their gripes failed to impact the game - which isn't a bad thing at all.

  2. The Losers
    Getty Images

    The Losers

    Ansu Fati:

    Halfway into the first half, Ansu Fati cut inside his man, creating what seemed the ideal angle to whip a shot into the far corner from 18 yards out. But he skewed his strike, sending it three yards wide of the post. It was emblematic of a difficult afternoon for the youngster. Preferred to Ferran Torres, Fati offered little on the left wing. Though he didn't lack for energy or industry, his quality on the ball was missing. It was an afternoon of loose touches and poorly-timed passes, with Fati being deservedly substituted on the hour mark.

    Jordi Alba

    Alba was enjoying a solid showing for 75 minutes. Reliable at the back and constantly darting into the final third, it was a familiar sort of performance. But he let his side down, arguing a clear booking before earning himself a second yellow. Alba should know better as a seasoned veteran of the side. He will now miss the next game, with Alejandro Balde waiting to step in. It's fair to wonder how much longer it will be before it is Alba who is sat waiting for chances behind Balde.

    Antonio Mateu Lahoz

    What else is there to say? Lahoz was criticised in the World Cup for handing out 16 yellow cards in the quarter-final between Argentina and the Netherlands, and he was equally eager with his bookings here, too. This was always likely to be a chippy derby, especially given Espanyol's gripes over Lewandowski's inclusion, but Lahoz made it more confrontational than it had to be, handing out at least one unnecessary red card, and offering fairly soft bookings throughout. He actually flashed red three times but saw one chalked off after VAR intervened. Regardless, his 15 confirmed bookings and two red cards broke his own La Liga record.

  3. Barcelona Ratings: Defence
    Getty Images

    Barcelona Ratings: Defence

    Marc Andre ter Stegen (6/10)

    A spectator for most of proceedings, although he did make one important diving stop in the first half. Couldn't do anything about the penalty.

    Sergi Roberto (6/10)

    Handed a start a few days after expressing his desire to stay at the club long-term. Forgettable showing, but good to get some minutes in.

    Andreas Christensen (7/10)

    The standout amidst a rough Barca backline. Defended well against the lively Joselu, and grabbed himself an assist on Alonso's opener.

    Marcos Alonso (6/10)

    Got himself on the scoresheet with a straightforward finish. Gave away a silly penalty to let Espanyol back in it. Still not a solution at centre-back, but looked comfortable deputising once again.

    Jordi Alba (5/10)

    Fizzed a few crosses into the area, but never found a man. Talked himself into a red card with 20 minutes to play.

  4. Midfield
    Getty Images


    Gavi (6/10)

    Didn't complete a single dribble and was physically outmatched in the middle of the park. Substituted after 50 minutes with an apparent injury.

    Frenkie de Jong (6/10)

    Started as the No.6 but moved to a more advanced position when Gavi was substituted. His influence on the game faded as time went on.

    Pedri (7/10)

    Broke the lines with marauding dribbles and clever touches. A delight to watch, and deserves credit for not getting dragged into unnecessary confrontation.

  5. Attack
    Getty Images


    Raphinha (6/10)

    The more impressive of the two wingers, and a constant attacking outlet on the right. Still hasn't hit his stride in a Barca shirt, but the signs are there.

    Robert Lewandowski (6/10)

    Not his brilliant best after being allowed to play despite facing a delayed three-match ban. Headed wide twice. Might have been better to serve his suspension.

    Ansu Fati (5/10)

    Preferred to Ferran Torres but didn't quite justify his selection. Curled a shot wide of the mark in the first half and should've gambled on a knockdown across the six-yard box with the goal gaping.

  6. Subs & Manager
    Getty Images

    Subs & Manager

    Sergio Busquets (6/10)

    Brought on early in the second half to replace the injured Gavi. One nice tackle, little else.

    Ferran Torres (6/10)

    Still waiting for his Barca career to take off.

    Ousmane Dembele(6/10)

    Substituted on in the 60th minute and immediately took three defenders out of the game with a scamper down the right. Decision-making was poor at times, as he skied one from outside the box despite having three men open in the middle.

    Alejandro Balde (6/10)

    Came on after Alba was sent off. Didn't really impact the game.

    Jules Kounde (6/10)

    Floated a cross into Fernandez's waiting arms right at the death.

    Xavi (6/10): Xavi made a few interesting selections against Espanyol, and none of them really worked out. It was brave to hand both Ansu Fati and Raphinha starts, and neither impressed. In fairness, he brought Dembele on when legs were needed, but still didn't get a top showing out of his team. A frustrating one.