In an action packed 90 minutes Barcelona B couldn't extend their winning streak against league leading Elche CF. Barça took the lead 22 minutes in, but couldn't keep the visitors from scoring for the remainder of the game. Fidel was the scorer for Elche.
Starting XI: Oier Olazabal; Patric, David Lombán, Carles Planas, Alejandro Grimaldo; Sergi Roberto, Gustavo Ledes, Cristian Lobato; Kiko Femenia, Luis Alberto, Gerard Deulofeu
Bench: Jordi Masip, Sergi Gomez, Edgar Ié, llie Sanchez, Rafinha, Joan Angel Román, Sergio Araujo
After starting for the first team Rafinha earned a place on the bench to begin the game, and was replaced by Kiko in the starting lineup, pushing Lobato to the midfield. Oier also returned to his starting goalkeeper spot. Surprisingly, though, Javier Espinosa didn't even make the bench. Jean Marie Dongou missed his third straight game through injury, but medical reports say that he should be back for the next Barça B game.
Barca B started very strong, dominating possession and despite a relatively high pressure from Elche there were very few misplaced passes. But despite the good start it was Elche who got the first shot on goal. Fidel fired an accurate low shot, but Oier did well to control it.
In the first half Elche were happy to concede possession and rely on counter attacks. And by the 15 minute mark they created three good opportunities, but all three were well defended thanks to some good positioning by the center-backs and the goalkeeper.
Barca would get their first shot on target in the 18th minute, but it was a poor effort from Deulofeu. Grimaldo made a fantastic run down the left side, crossed the ball to Roberto at the edge of the box, who laid the ball to Deulofeu. Deulofeu was aiming for the top corner, but didn't get enough power on it to beat Manu Herrera.
Three minutes later Deulofeu forced Alberto Rivera to handle the ball in the penalty area, therefore conceding a spot kick. Deulofeu stepped up and powered it just under the bar - fantastically taken penalty kick by the youngster and Barca were up 1-0.
Ferran Corominas almost tied the game immediately after, but his shot from the right side whistled just wide of Oier's right post. Barca replied with a chance of their own, but after making a nice run down the right side Patric saw his shot well saved by the keeper.
Ten minutes before the halftime whistle Oier made a great save on Carles Gil. Fidel's cross came in from the left side and Lomban was in a great position to clear the danger, but he missed the ball completely and allowed Gil a golden opportunity. The striker fired from near the penalty spot but Oier dived to make the save.
Teams exchanged opportunities in the remainder of half. First Grimaldo made another fantastic run on the left side and nicely found Luis Alberto in the middle. But Alberto was out of position to take the shot so he tried to thread the ball back to Grimaldo, who cut in the middle, but the left back just couldn't get to the ball in time to take the shot.
On the next play Oier again made a good save. Fidel was given a lot of space on Elche's left side but his rising shot was punched away by Oier. To end the half Deulofeu created one more opportunity, but his low shot was excellently saved by Manu.
Throughout the opening 45 minutes Barcelona B dominated possession, but it was Elche who had more dangerous chances. However, at halftime the score was 1-0 in favor of the home side courtesy of Deulofeu's brilliant penalty kick.
After the restart Elche brought on more pressure which caused quite some problems to the youngsters. The pressure quickly started working in Elche's favor as just four minutes into the second half they caused a turnover in midfield and created a great opportunity, but the close range shot was blocked by Planas. Soon after Corominas had a chance to tie the game, but his shot sailed wide of the post.
Barca B still managed to create opportunities though. Deulofeu outmuscled the defender to a long ball from Oier and after a run deep into the penalty area he cut the ball back to Lobato, but his shot was blocked. However, the rebound fell to Alberto at the edge of the box, but the striker's attempt went just wide of the post.
In the 53rd minute Eusebio made the first substitution of the day. Rafinha replaced Roberto, as Roberto needed some rest after playing midweek against Benfica with the first team.
A couple minute later Alberto was sent alone on the counterattack, but his high shot was well saved by Manu. Then Planas had the opportunity to double the lead, but his weak try was easily controlled by the keeper.
After several failed chances to do so, Elche finally got the equalizer in the 67th minute. Kiko carelessly lost lost the ball on left side of the box to Damián Suárez. Suárez then found Fidel all alone near the penalty spot from where he fired on goal and in it went of the post for the tying goal.
Elche's pressure continued and just three minutes later they could've been in the lead. Corominas was found beautifully in front of the goal, but his attempt was stopped by Oier('s nose).
In a span of five minutes Eusebio then completed his remaining two substitutions. First Araujo came on for Lobato and then Grimaldo was forced to leave the game with a knee injury. The young left-back went down in pain without contact and had to be helped off the pitch. Grimaldo was replaced by Ié, who was making his Barcelona B debut, after coming to Barcelona in the off-season from Sporting Lisbon.
Three minutes before the final whistle Elche had a fantastic chance to take the lead, but Miguel Linares didn't get a good shot off from about 25 feet from the goal.
After three minutes of added time the game ended in a one-all tie, which was probably the most fair result. Both teams had several opportunities to take the three points but neither did.
The player I was most impressed with in this game was Grimaldo - by a large margin. He was a threat in the attack and was also very impressive on defense, winning back several balls. Sadly he had leave the game with a knee injury and it has since been confirmed that he will be sidelined for the next three weeks.
Barça's next game is again on Saturday when they will face another higher ranked team on the table, Madrid based club AD Alcorcón, at the Santo Domingo stadium.