Barcelona title triumph marred in 'disgraceful' football drama
The chaos has been condemned across the football world.
Barcelona players had to abandon their La Liga title celebrations after ugly scenes broke out in the wake of their 4-2 victory against Espanyol. Playing away at the home of their fierce cross-town football rivals, Robert Lewandowski scored twice to lead his side to derby success and a first league title for the Catalan club since 2019.
The title was secured with four rounds remaining and comes two years after Argentine maestro Lionel Messi left amid the club's financial struggles. However, the celebrations were short-lived for Barcelona's players, who had to flee down the tunnel after home fans stormed the pitch.
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A large group of Espanyol fans from the ultra section behind one of the goals raced onto the field and headed for Barcelona's squad, which was singing and dancing around the centre circle of the pitch. Security guards quickly intervened to ensure the safety of the club's players and staff.
Espanyol supporters were seen throwing chairs and other objects before dispersing as authorities converged on the pitch. Riot police were also seen blocking the entrance to the tunnel with shields to ensure no fans were able to break through.
Barcelona coach Xavi admitted he had tried to take his players into the locker room even before the fans' actions, amid concerns the celebrations may have been provocative for the rival fans. “It was a moment of celebration, euphoria, it was normal, but we were not in our home and at one point I felt that it was more respectful if we went back into the locker room,” he said.
Espanyol later apologised for the incident, which was described as "disgusting" and "disgraceful" across the football world. “We should always condemn violence, in all aspects of life,” Espanyol coach Luis García said. “Everything was done to try to keep this from happening but it wasn't possible.”
Espanyol’s fans are so disgusting, couldn’t let Barcelona celebrate
They can cry more in SEGUNDA 🚬
— ZIAD IS HAPPY FOREVER 🇦🇷 (@Ziad_EJ) May 14, 2023
Shameful by Espanyol fans…
— Russell C. Lakey (@RussLakey) May 14, 2023
Espanyol fans showed disrespect to their team and champion Barcelona!
You guys go to support your team more than ever, and come back stronger next season! #espanolbarca #laliga pic.twitter.com/OxksV8M1uN
— Nab Lamichhane (@nrlamichhane) May 14, 2023
Sorry, but I don't care how "provocative" the actions of the Barcelona players are.
There is NEVER an excuse to charge the field and chase the players. None. Zero. You don't do it.
This is DISGRACEFUL from Espanyol fans. Pathetic. https://t.co/z8kskOf83o
— Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) May 14, 2023
I hate Barcelona with a passion, but what Espanyol fans did was absolutely disgusting and shouldn’t be tolerated. Hopefully this disgusting club gets relegated back to Segunda
— Southie 🇵🇱 (@RealSouthie) May 14, 2023
I hope all the Espanyol fans that stormed the pitch get arrested or fined, absolutely disgusting behaviour and simply unacceptable. #LaLiga #EspanyolBarca #ESPNFC #Barcelona #Espanyol
— Ennis (@_ekyzer) May 14, 2023
Pol is spot on here, the footage is shocking. Disgraceful behaviour from Barcelona but that’s to be expected. A right and proper response from Espanyol’s fans. 👍😄 https://t.co/uTJ3OjJh0w
— David Riley (@DaveJRiley) May 14, 2023
Barcelona snap La Liga title drought
Xavi said despite the ugly scenes overshadowing the title triumph, it was still an incredible moment for his side. "It's a magnificent feeling, a feeling of job well done," the Barcelona coach added.
"This is important to give the club's project some stability. The league title shows that things have been done the right way and that we have to stay on this path."
Lewandowski, the league's leading scorer with 21 goals, opened the scoring from close range in the 11th minute and added his second in the 40th after a low cross by Raphinha in a breakaway. Alejandro Balde and Jules Kounde also scored for Barcelona, who now have 27 league titles, eight fewer than Real Madrid.
The victory over Espanyol gave Barcelona an insurmountable 85 points from 34 matches, 14 points more than Madrid, who won 1-0 at Getafe earlier in the weekend. The loss against Barcelona dealt a big blow to Espanyol in their fight against relegation. They remain in second-last spot, still four points from safety.
Javi Puado scored Espanyol's first goal in the 73rd and Joselu added the second in added time as Barcelona players were getting ready to celebrate. Barcelona have led since the 13th round and hold the league's best defence with just 13 goals conceded — 15 better than any other club. They also have 25 clean sheets.
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