So long the scourge of Barcelona, veteran defender Sergio Ramos unwittingly gave his old club a much-needed victory. Ramos, a former Real Madrid captain playing his old rivals Barcelona again for the first time since 2020, was helpless when he attempted to block 16-year-old Lamine Yamal’s header into the box and saw the ball creep over the line in the 76th minute. The goal lifted Barca to the top of La Liga and ended a three-game losing streak.
It was a hard-fought win that kept Barca’s unbeaten start intact and left them just one point behind league leaders Girona with a game in hand. Tensions between the clubs rose before kickoff when Sevilla announced that it would boycott a VIP box at the Montjuic Olympic Stadium, where Barca holds home games as its traditional ground at the Nou Camp is renovated. Sevilla said the move was in protest over an ongoing corruption scandal involving referee Jose Maria Enrique Negreira, who is investigating Barcelona officials.
Barca controlled the first half, maintaining possession and limiting the chances for their guests. The best chance came in the 26th minute when Joao Felix snuck into the box and fired a low drive that fizzed across the face of the goal but stayed out. Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to make a couple of saves, but the hosts were in control.
The second half was much more competitive as both sides pushed for the winner. The game was poised until the 76th minute when Ramos, jeered by Barca fans for his past spell with Madrid, inadvertently helped them take the lead. The 37-year-old defender held his hands up to admit he had mistakenly bundled Yamal’s header into his net.
That sparked a massive cheer from the home crowd and brought life back to the Nou Camp. Barca looked more fluid and dangerous, with Ivan Rakitic unable to finish off some excellent work from Joao Felix on the left flank and Dodi Lukebakio forcing a save from ter Stegen.
Barca could have added a third when Oshoala broke clear and showed nifty footwork to create the space for herself, but her shot hit the crossbar.
Sevilla tried to rally, and Ramos was again called upon, making a solid save from a fierce strike from Lucas Ocampos. The visitors pushed for an equalizer late on and were rewarded when a clumsy foul from Barca’s Raphinha gave them a free kick in the final minute.
Joao Felix almost won it in stoppage time with a brilliant strike that crashed off the underside of the bar, but his effort stayed out. It was an entertaining and hard-fought win for Barca as they continue to improve in defense, even if their finishing needs some work. A clean sheet is a big positive, and the attacking quality was encouraging, as was the defensive discipline. Seeing how the team reacts to this setback after such a high-profile result will be interesting.