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Roberto scores twice to help Barcelona avoid Almeria scare in La Liga

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BARCELONA: Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto scored a brace to help his side edge bottom-ranked Almeria in a five-goal La Liga thriller at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys.

Defending La Liga champions Barcelona solidified their third position after the 3-2 win over the win-less visitors at their temporary home ground, which is hosting their home games this season due to renovations of the Camp Nou.

Barcelona dominated the possession from the beginning and kept the Almeria side under pressure.

Raphinha opened the scoring in the 33rd minute when Araujo hit a header following a corner, which was stopped by Almeria goalkeeper Maximiano but Raphinha hit the net on a rebound.

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Now in the lead, Xavi’s charges took their foot off the pedal, yet they almost got a second when Robert Lewandowski was gifted the ball in the box by a defender and only another excellent Maximiano save denied him.

This drop in intensity did then prove to be their undoing as just eight minutes later, Leo Baptistao shocked them with an equaliser.

Xavi rang the changes at half-time and sent on Ferran Torres and Jules Kounde in place of Joao Felix and Andreas Christensen.

Torres had an instant impact, working the Portuguese stopper with a firm strike three minutes after half-time.

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Poor set-piece defending gave Barca the chance they needed to get back in front on the hour mark, Sergi Roberto meeting a corner at the near post and lofting a header over the goalkeeper’s dive into the far corner.

The second goal appeared to have knocked the stuffing out of the 20th-placed side but a gift from Pena got them back in it when he dropped a lofted free-kick at Edgar’s feet and the defender gleefully rolled the ball into the unguarded net.

Barca had a golden chance to win the game with just over 10 minutes remaining, but Lewandowski then Ilkay Gundogan were unable to make sufficient contact with their headers when the goal was gaping before them.

But it was Sergi Roberto, in just his fifth appearance of the season, that provided the winning goal for the Spanish champions when he burst onto Lewandowski’s lofted pass in the 83rd minute and slotted past Maximiano.

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