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BARCELONA: Barcelona ground out a 1-0 win over Osasuna to move third in La Liga on Wednesday as Xavi Hernandez started his long farewell as coach of the champions.
The coach said he was stepping down at the end of the season after a heavy defeat last weekend left the Catalans 11 points behind league leaders Girona.
Barcelona cut that down to eight with a largely drab win over their mid-table visitors, earned by young Brazilian striker Vitor Roque’s first goal for the club.
Osasuna had defender Unai Garcia sent off for two yellow cards, but Barcelona could not put the game to bed.
The Catalans also trail second-place Real Madrid by seven points despite playing one extra match.
“This win tastes good, it was a tough gave given what we’re coming off of, Osasuna put in a lot of intensity and the important thing is the three points and to keep adding more,” Pedri told DAZN.
“La Liga is complicated but I’ve seen worse things turn around. We’ll keep trying to add three points out of three and let’s see if those in front slip up.”
After leading Barcelona to La Liga glory last season, Xavi’s team crumbled and in January were thrashed in the Spanish Super Cup final by Real Madrid and knocked out of the Copa del Rey.
Xavi insisted he would fight on to try and win La Liga and the Champions League, hoping his decision would change the team’s dynamic but the first-half performance was as uninspired as any in his two-year tenure.
The coach brought Ferran Torres back into the side after Saturday’s 5-3 defeat by Villarreal, the final straw which saw him announce his future exit.
However the Spaniard limped off after just a few minutes and was replaced by midfielder Fermin Lopez.
Robert Lewandowski headed wide and Jules Kounde nodded over from Ilkay Gundogan corners, before Lopez’s cross-turned-shot was saved by Aitor Fernandez from a tight angle.
Explosive 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal, starting his fourth game in 11 days for Barca, swung in a superb cross which Gundogan sent narrowly wide with a flicked header when he should have scored.
It brought the chilly Olympic Stadium to life, with some fans chanting Xavi’s name and the coach sent on Roque.
The 18-year-old, nicknamed Tigrinho — little tiger — was almost immediately on the scoresheet, netting with a smart header at the near post from Cancelo’s superb cross.
Roque’s next involvement was to draw a foul from Garcia, who was dismissed for dragging the striker down.
Barcelona capitalized on the extra space with Yamal stretching the defense and drawing a save from Fernandez, with his follow-up effort blocked too.
Substitute Raul Garcia clipped the post with a low effort after Osasuna snatched the ball back high up, which was as close as Jagoba Arrasate’s side came.
“If this team has anything, it’s faith — we tried until the end, and it’s a shame we didn’t at least get a draw,” said Osasuna coach Arrasate.
Lewandowski curled home a second for Barcelona but it was disallowed for a clear offside and the hosts saw out the final stages to keep their three points.
“I think Vitor puts a lot of speed into the game, he’s got goals, he’ll bring us a lot,” said Pedri.
“He breaks loose constantly and that’s important for the midfielders.”
Later Wednesday fourth-place Atletico Madrid host neighbors Rayo Vallecano in a derby, aiming to move back ahead of Barcelona on goal difference.

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