Barcelona center-back Ronald Araujo scored his first La Liga goal in some style on Saturday against Valencia at the Camp Nou.
The 21-year-old Uruguay international put the Catalan giants 2-1 up with a spectacular scissor kick from inside the penalty area on 52 minutes that flew past goalkeeper Jaume Doménech.
It was a brilliant finish from Araujo who has come into the team this season in place of injured team-mate Gerard Pique. The 21-year-old lined up alongside fellow youngster Oscar Mingueza in central defense against Valencia.
Coach Ronald Koeman praised the Uruguayan defender and spoke of his qualities ahead of the match in his news conference to preview the encounter.
Although he’s a really young player he’s so strong. He’s a tall player and that’s important to be a defender. He has a great character and he leads the defence. He trains really well. He still has to improve with the ball, but we are talking about a really young player. He is playing a really important position and he has a great future. He wants to continue improving. He wants to learn and that’s really important.
Yet Barca couldn’t hold on to their lead and were pegged back on 69 minutes when Maxi Gomez fired Valencia level from close range.
The result sees Barca drop more points in La Liga and comes after wins over Levante and Real Sociedad that had offered hope Koeman’s team could challenge for the title despite a poor start.
Barca have now won just six of 13 games in La Liga and slip eight points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid who also have a game in hand on the Catalan giants.
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Barcelona Go Behind Again
Barcelona dominated the early stages of the game but went behind from a corner. Ronald Koeman’s men have now conceded more goals from corners than any other team in La Liga, according to Opta.
Valencia defender Mouctar Diakhaby was left completely unmarked in the penalty area and headed the ball past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for the opening goal.
The Catalan giants hit back just before the break through captain Lionel Messi. Barca won a penalty after Antoine Griezmann was pushed in the box, but Domenech saved Messi’s initial spot-kick.
However, the Argentina international reacted quickly to bundle the ball home from close range from a cross by Jordi Alba to send Barca in at the break on level terms.
Messi Equals Pele Record
Messi’s goal also saw the Barcelona captain hit another landmark. The strike was his 643rd for Barcelona, equaling Pele’s record of goals for a single club.
The forward now just needs one more goal to move past the legendary Brazilian and claim the record outright.