Muniesa returned to the pitch - David Ramos
Barcelona B ended their longest losing streak of the season with a solid performance against Hércules.
After three consecutive losses Barcelona B ended their losing streak with a 1-0 victory over Hércules CF. The only goal of the game was scored midway through the second half by Rafinha, but the win came a grave cost with Alejandro Grimaldo forced out of the game by what was later confirmed as a torn ACL.
Starting XI: Oier Olazabal; Patric, Sergi Gómez, Marc Muniesa, Carles Planas; Sergi Roberto, Ilie Sanchez, Rafinha; Joan Angel Román, Jean Marie Dongou, Luis Alberto
Bench: Jordi Masip, Alejandro Grimaldo, Edgar Ié, Gustavo Ledes, Javier Espinosa, Kiko Femenia, Sergio Araujo
In an effort to stop the stretch of bad results Eusebio made several changes in the starting lineup. Patric and Ilie returned after a very long stretch during which they struggled to get off the bench. The best news of the game was the inclusion of Roberto and Muniesa in the starting lineup, both returning from injuries. The return of Muniesa was especially encouraging because of the severeness of the injury the defender suffered in the preseason.
The first chance of the game went to Hércules, but a last second tackle from Patric prevented an easy goal by Javier Portillo. The rest of the first half was highlighted by great goalkeeping. Ismael Falcon was first tested in the 18th minute. Roberto fired a shot on goal, but it was excellently kept out by the Hércules goalkeeper.
At the half hour mark it was Oier's turn to show his goalkeeping skills. Nacho González looked destined to score, but Oier made a leaping save to steer the ball to the post to keep the game scoreless.
Five minutes later, after a handball by Nacho on the left side, Alberto sent in a cross and the ball crossed the goal-line with Rafinha getting the final touch on the ball. However, the play was whistled dead because of a foul by Gomez on the goalkeeper and the goal did not count.
Three minutes later Rafinha won a free kick on the edge of the box, just to the right of Hercules' goal. As has been the case all season, Alberto stepped up to take it, but his attempt sailed just over the crossbar.
In the 41st minute Planas and Muniesa played a lovely one-two deep in their zone, which gave Planas a lot of space on the left side. Near the penalty box Planas found Roberto alone in the center, but the midfielder's shot was excellently saved. Roberto had another chance to put the hosts in the lead, but he bounced the rebound just wide of Falcon's right post.
At the stroke of halftime Dongou showcased some lovely dribbling, making his way into the area. He then found Alberto, who was overlapping to his left, in space to take the final shot. Alberto elevated his attempt, but the keeper once again made a good save.
At halftime Roberto stayed in the dressing room, apparently not being fit enough to play more than one half after missing about a month with an injury. He was replaced on the pitch by Grimaldo who took his place on the wing with Barça's formation starting to look more like a 4-2-3-1.
Barça B started the second half where they finished the first one - with good pressure toward Hercules' goal, but struggling to find a way past the goalkeeper.
Barça suffered a terrible blow in the 58th minute when Grimaldo had to leave the pitch because of an apparent right knee injury. He made a darting run down the right side, but being disrupted by the defender he jumped over him, and on the landing the knee gave way with Grimaldo going down in a lot of pain. He was replaced on the pitch by Kiko
Four minutes later Dongou made another run between three defenders, however, the goalkeeper was once again there to stop the ball from crossing the goal-line.
Barcelona finally broke the deadlock in the 68th minute when Rafinha found the back of the net. The midfielder received the ball from Patric at the edge of the box with his back to the net. Rafinha then made a quick turn that gave him more then enough space to pick his spot and beat the keeper to the far post.
Soon after, Rafinha had a chance to double the lead, after he was setup by Dongou, but he slightly mishit the perimeter shot which sent the ball sailing over the bar. Barcelona continued to press for the insurance goal, with most plays going through Rafinha and/or Dongou, but Barça struggled to create a clear scoring chance.
In the 85th minute Dongou drew four defenders to himself and then passed the ball to Kiko on the right side. Kiko laid the ball to Patric on the edge of the box, but the right back fired a weak shot that was easily saved by Falcon.
In the 88th minute Eusebio made the final substitution of the game, replacing Roman with Espinosa. Just before being subbed off Roman fired a good shot from about 17-yards out, but on it's way to the goal it got deflected and trickled just inches wide of the post.
The final chance of the game was created by Espinosa, who exhibited some excellent dribbling in limited time, when he was brought down on the very edge of the box. Alberto curled it around the wall, but was unlucky to hit Dongou, who was trying to get out of the way. The score remained 1-0 in favor of Barcelona B who snapped a three game losing streak.
Barcelona B will be in action again on Sunday when they travel to the Canary Islands to take on UD Las Palmas.