Barcelona 3-5 Villarreal: Player ratings as Barca throw away comeback lead late on

  • Gerard Moreno & Ilias Akhomach fired Villarreal into a two-goal lead early in the second half
  • Ilkay Gundogan led Barcelona's comeback with a goal and two assists
  • Goncalo Guedes, Alexander Sorloth & Jose Luis Morales netted late on to end the drama

Barcelona collapsed in dramatic fashion
Barcelona collapsed in dramatic fashion / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Barcelona's nightmare run of form continued on Saturday as they fell to a chaotic 5-3 defeat to Villarreal at home.

Gerard Moreno and Ilias Akhomach fired Villarreal 2-0 ahead - the former also had an early goal controversially ruled out - but Xavi's side roared back with three goals in 11 minutes to ease the pressure on their boss.

Strikes from Ilkay Gundogan, Pedri and an Eric Bailly own goal completely turned the game on its head and fired Barcelona into the lead, but Goncalo Guedes buried late on against the run of play to set up a fascinating ending.

It was Villarreal who would have the last laugh as Alexander Sorloth netted in stoppage time to put his side ahead, but Jose Luis Morales netted at the death.

How the game unfolded

A scrappy start to the game saw good efforts from both Lamine Yamal and Joao Felix blocked, with the latter's strike also requiring a great save from Villarreal stopper Filip Jorgensen 15 minutes in.

Moreno had the ball in the back of the net 22 minutes in after some of the ugliest penalty box pinball you'll ever see, but the assistant referee raised his flag and a VAR check spotted Alexander Sorloth standing in an offside position. Just how involved the Norway striker was in the play is up for debate, but the officials made the decision to chalk the goal off.

There would be no denying Moreno shortly before the interval, however.

Barcelona were asleep as they failed to defend a throw-in, and Sorloth's fizzed cross was crashed home superbly by the Spaniard, sending Villarreal into the half-time break in the ascendancy.

Xavi made a huge statement at half-time with a triple substitution, sending a clear sign to his players that this first-half performance will not be tolerated.

Unfortunately, it was one of those substitutes, Joao Cancelo, who was guilty of an error for Villarreal's second ten minutes after the break. Barcelona had actually started the second half brightly but the full-back failed to control a long ball and sent former La Masia star Akhomach through on goal, with the youngster rounding Inaki Pena and slotting home.

On came Ferran Torres to try save the day and the winger made an immediate impact as he drove at the Villarreal defence, and his pass found its way to the feet of Gundogan to slot home on the hour mark.

Seven minutes later and Barca were level. This time, it was another substitute, Pedri, who fired home after a ricochet from Gudogan landed perfectly at his feet.

The comeback was completed almost immediately after. Gundogan's free kick was whipped in from the wing and deflected into his own net by Eric Bailly under immense pressure from Ronald Araujo.

It looked like Barcelona were going to roar to a huge win, but Guedes drilled home with six minutes to go against the run of play to tie things up once again and set up a fascinating finale.

As the clock ticked over into stoppage time, Barcelona were awarded a penalty when Gundogan's strike hit the arm of Santi Comesana, but a VAR check decided the Villarreal midfielder did everything he could to avoid contact and the decision was overruled.

The drama was not over there as Sorloth netted in the 99th minute, crashing into the back of the net after some poor defending to end Barcelona's hopes of snatching anything from the game.

Somehow, there was still time for another goal from Morales, who rolled the ball beyond Pena with the last kick of the game to send Barcelona crashing back to reality in astonishing fashion.

Barcelona player ratings (4-3-3)

Ilkay Gundogan
Gundogan was crucial for Barcelona / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

GK: Inaki Pena - 2/10 - His bizarre decision to try scoop the ball away from Sorloth late on ended up costing his side dearly.

RB: Jules Kounde - 4/10 - Made some smart challenges and some poor decisions. A bit of a mixed bag from Kounde, whose attacking input was a bit of a problem at times.

CB: Ronald Araujo - 2/10 - Really struggled with Sorloth's physicality and watched as the Norwegian walked away with one goal and two assists.

CB: Andreas Christensen - 2/10 - Caught sleeping for Moreno's opener. Also struggled up against the power of Villarreal's forwards.

LB: Hector Fort - 6/10 - Given the circumstances as a young player being used out of position, this was nice from Fort. Struggled against Akhomach at times but also enjoyed trying to get forward. Did what he could.

DM: Oriol Romeu - 2/10 - Didn't shield his defence, didn't inspire in attack. Another truly underwhelming performance.

CM: Frenkie de Jong - 3/10 - Looked a bit like a passenger at times. Guilty of ball watching too often. Disappeared when his team needed him most.

CM: Ilkay Gundogan - 8/10 - Tried to get forwards as much as possible in the first half and made a real impact doing so. He scored the first, was involved in the second and set up the third with a delightful free kick.

RW: Lamine Yamal - 7/10 - The only player who really turned up in the first half, Yamal seemed visibly relieved to see those around him step up after the break.

ST: Robert Lewandowski - 1/10 - Something is horribly, horribly wrong with Lewandowski. Barely involved in the game at all, failing to even offer an option for teammates at times. Can't be given credit for his 'assist' for Gundogan which just hit his foot.

LW: Joao Felix - 5/10 - Deserves credit for trying to get on the ball but his actual impact was poor, to say the least. Didn't do nearly enough to help Fort in attack.


SUB: Pau Cubarsi (46' for Christensen) - 5/10 - Not great for Villarreal's second and appeared to crumble under the pressure in the dying embers.

SUB: Pedri (46' for Romeu) - 7/10 - Helped change the game with an excellent performance from the base of Barcelona's midfield.

SUB: Joao Cancelo (46' for Fort) - 5/10 - A huge mistake for the second goal and, after some nice moments, seemed to be let down by his tired legs.

SUB: Ferran Torres (58' for Felix) - 7/10 - Brought so much energy to proceedings. Surely has to be a guaranteed starter.

SUB: Vitor Roque (75' for Lewandowski) - 5/10 - At least tried to get involved.

Subs not used: Diego Kochen (GK), Ander Astralaga (GK), Marc Casado, Fermin Lopez, Marc Guiu


Xavi - 5/10 - The triple substitution felt like a turning point for Xavi, who nearly rescued something from this mess with an inspired half-time team talk, but Barcelona were a shambles late on. Still plenty of work to do.

Player of the match - Alexander Sorloth (Villarreal)