Xavi leaves Barcelona on a high with narrow victory over Sevilla

Barcelona signed off from the Xavi Hernandez era with a 2-1 victory over Sevilla on Sunday night.

With nothing but pride to play for in his final game in charge after announcing his exit earlier in the week, Xavi fielded his strongest lineup for the game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

After a turbulent season on and off the pitch saw them languishing in 14th before kick-off, Sevilla did not pose the same threat as one would usually expect.

They were instantly under pressure from the visitors, with Kike Salas making a well-timed block to deny the teenage sensation Lamine Yamal.

/Jos Manuel VidalEFE

It was a moment of pure quality from Barca, who opened the scoring with their first shot on goal. Lamine Yamal slid a neat pass into Pedri, who dummied it for Joao Cancelo. And the Portuguese full-back crafted an inch-perfect ball for Lewandowski, who pulled off a sublime acrobatic finish at the far post.

Sevilla responded well and nearly equalized after Jules Kounde gave possession away cheaply, but Adria Pedrosa’s effort was comfortably saved by Marc-Ander Ter Stegen. Minutes later, he was called into action again to deny Dodi Lukebakio, diving down quickly to his right to push away the Belgian winger’s effort.

Their efforts paid off on the half-hour mark, though, when Youssef En-Nesyri grabbed his 16th goal of the LaLiga campaign. The Moroccan striker ran onto a neat through ball from Boubakary Soumare and slid through the legs of the German goalkeeper to make it 1-1.

La Masia comes through for Xavi

Both sides had their bad share of luck with the goalposts after Pedri’s effort from inside the box cannoned back off the crossbar, and on the stroke of half-time, Lukebakio headed against the woodwork at the other end.

Ral Caro.EFE

Under Xavi’s management, several graduates from Barca’s La Masia academy have made an impression. And it was fitting that their unsung hero Fermin Lopez put his side back in front on 59 minutes.

The 21-year-old, receiving the ball from Ilkay Gundogan on the left flank, cut inside with real intent and struck a sweet low effort into the bottom corner from 20 yards out. He now has 11 goals in all competitions this season, proving he has a bright future even after Xavi departs.

Joao Felix came on for the final appearance of his loan spell and nearly capped it with a goal, but Orlan Nyland kept out the Portuguese’s low drive with a strong leg. But Fermin’s goal was enough to secure a hard-earned victory for Xavi as he leaves the Barcelona dugout for good this time.

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