Real Mallorca 0-1 Barcelona: Luuk de Jong seals win for Xavi's depleted side

By Sports Desk January 02, 2022

Luuk de Jong scored the only goal of the game as a severely depleted Barcelona edged past Real Mallorca 1-0 in LaLiga on Sunday.

Xavi described the decision to force the Blaugrana to play as "crazy" after they were hit with a spate of COVID-19 cases during the mid-season break, but his makeshift side coped admirably against Luis Garcia's men.

De Jong – who had already hit the woodwork twice – headed in his second league goal of the campaign in the 44th minute to seal just a second win in Barca's last six games across all competitions.

The result moved the Catalan giants up to fifth – one point behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid – while Mallorca remained in 15th.

Barca looked more lively than their hosts in the early stages and went close through Gerard Pique's free-kick and Ferran Jutgla's whipped strike.

De Jong twice went agonisingly close to opening the scoring moments before the half-hour mark, first poking against the post from Ilias Chakkour's pass and then crashing a spectacular bicycle kick off Manolo Reina's crossbar.

The striker was not to be denied shortly before the interval, though, rising highest at the back post to head home Oscar Mingueza's cross and give Barca a deserved half-time lead.

Barca continued to do much of the pressing after the break, with Pique and De Jong going close to grabbing a second. 

Marc-Andre ter Stegen superbly kept out Jaume Costa's stoppage-time volley as Xavi's side held on to claim a 12th win in their last 13 away LaLiga games against Mallorca. 

What does it mean? Youthful Barca continue fine run against hosts

Despite a starting XI with an average age of 24 years and 201 days – their third youngest since at least the 2005-06 season – Barca put in a mature, dominant performance to seal an eighth consecutive LaLiga win against Mallorca.

They enjoyed a whopping 64.7 per cent possession in a win that meant they have not lost their first game of the calendar year for the past seven seasons.

De Jong signing off in style

De Jong's loan from Sevilla is expected to the terminated this month, but the Netherlands striker is certainly going out with a bang. His header sealed all three points, while he was denied two more by the frame of the goal, becoming the first Barca player other than Lionel Messi to hit the woodwork twice in a single LaLiga game since August 2019.

Chakkour outshines Jutgla

Jutgla toiled in attack for the visitors, taking a single shot and failing to play a key pass. In contrast, Chakkour – playing on the other side of De Jong – had two shots and played a joint team-high three key passes.

What's next?

Both sides are in Copa del Rey action on Wednesday, with Barca travelling to Linares Deportivo and Mallorca visiting Eibar.

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