Barcelona had Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank after the German goalkeeper produced a moment of magic to help secure a narrow 1-0 win over Real Mallorca at Son Moix in La Liga on Sunday, January 2.
Luuk de Jong had given Barcelona a 1-0 lead in the first half, but the Catalan giants looked set to be denied right at the death when Real Mallorca were presented with a brilliant chance to equalize.
Jaume Costa popped up unmarked at the far post in stoppage time and only had Ter Stegen to beat, but the German produced an incredible reflex save to deny the 33-year-old from point-blank range, as shown by ESPN.
Ter Stegen has come in for criticism this season but the save showed the German at his very best and helped Barca to an important three points. The win sees Xavi’s men move just one point behind Atletico Madrid in fourth place and only two behind Real Betis in third.
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Eric Garcia Hails Ter Stegen After Win
Barcelona defender Eric Garcia was quick to praise Ter Stegen for his heroics in goal after the victory. The center-back spoke to Movistar after the game and shared his thoughts on the match, as reported by Marca.
“It was very very important to pick up the three points tonight. A couple of the other teams have slipped up. It was important to start the year well and to move up the table,” he said. “The first half was very good and then we suffered. Marc’s stop has been spectacular, it is more than 70 percent of the win. He has shown what a good goalkeeper he is and has given us victory.”
Barcelona took on Real Mallorca with a severely-depleted squad due to Covid-19, injuries, and suspensions. Key players including Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Pedri, and Sergino Dest all missed the trip to Mallorca.
Xavi Reacts To Barcelona’s Win
Ter Stegen also came in for praise from manager Xavi who was delighted to see his team manage to take home all three points despite all the problems they had encountered before the match.
Xavi admitted he was proud to see his patched-up team dig in and grind out a win that came courtesy of a first-half goal from Dutch striker Luuk de Jong, as reported by Marca.
“We suffered. It was a day to suspend the game but I am very proud of the team and for Marc, I needed him. He is a great goalkeeper and in the end he saved us,” he said. “Today is not the day to talk about the things that were missing, but the good things. We must praise the positive things, the first half, Ter Stegen’s save. We leave without conceding a goal, we have known how to suffer … this is football. Of the top six, we are the only team to win. It is a historic victory the way we were with 17 casualties.”
Xavi also confirmed after the game that both Dani Alves and Jordi Alba have now tested negative for Covid-19, as reported by ESPN’s Samuel Marsden. Both players should therefore be available for Barca’s next game against Linares in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, January 5.