Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was sent off from the touchline during Thursday’s crucial La Liga clash with Granada at the Camp Nou.
The Dutchman was shown a straight red card in the second half, shortly after the visitors had made it 1-1. Lionel Messi had opened the scoring for Barca midway through the first half, but Darwin Machis leveled on 63 minutes for Granada.
Koeman appeared to have been sent off for a complaint or something he said to the referee after Machis had tied the match, according to ESPN’s Samuel Marsden. The Barca boss is likely to be handed a touchline ban and may not be on the bench for key games against Valencia and Atletico Madrid, according to journalist Ferran Martinez.
The Barcelona manager’s frustration was understandable as Barca had largely controlled the match after taking the lead. The hosts also went into the game knowing that a victory over Granada would see the team move top of the table with just five games left.
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Koeman Makes Three Changes
Koeman had made three changes to his team for Thursday’s match. Midfielder Pedri was given a rare rest and replaced by Ilaix Moriba. Elsewhere, Sergi Roberto took over from Sergino Dest at right wing-back and Samuel Umtiti replaced Clement Lenglet.
Barcelona dominated the first half and scored the opening goal in some style when Messi combined with Antoine Griezmann. The World Cup winner produced a beautiful turn and pass to send Messi through on goal to score his 26th La Liga goal of the season.
Koeman made more changes after seeing his team pegged back by Granada. The Dutchman took off Oscar Mingueza and Moriba and brought on Pedri and Ousmane Dembele in search of a second goal.
Another Twist in La Liga Title Race
Barcelona’s evening got even worse on 79 minutes when Jorge Molina put the visitors 2-1 up to leave Koeman’s side with a mountain to climb. The striker managed to get in between Umtiti and Gerard Pique and headed past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The result gives Granada a first-ever win at the Camp Nou and will be a bitter blow to Koeman and Barcelona. The defeat also means the title race in the Spanish top-flight takes yet another twist and leaves the Catalan giants still in third place in the table with just five games left to play.
Atletico Madrid leads the way on 73 points with Real Madrid and Barcelona two points behind the Rojiblancos and Sevilla a point further back. Real Madrid is ahead of Barca in the table courtesy of a better head-to-head record.
Koeman spoke to reporters after the match about his red card and insisted he had no idea why he had been sent off, as reported by Marca.
“I don’t understand the reason for my red card. I didn’t say anything bad about him nor did I insult him…but hey, if the fourth official wants to be the star of the night, then very well,” he said. “I said something to the referee and he answered me in a way that had disrespected me, and I answered him back. But I did not insult him or anything.”
The destination of the title is now out of Barca’s hands, although Koeman’s men are not out of the race completely. The Catalan giants will need to win their last five games and hope their rivals drop points if they are to be crowned champions.