MADRID (AP) — One more minute and Espanyol’s 13-year winless streak against crosstown rival Barcelona in the Spanish league would finally be over.
Sixty more seconds and its 23-match winless run against the Spanish powerhouse would finally come to an end.
But Espanyol couldn’t stop a goal by Luuk de Jong in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time, and had to settle for a 2-2 draw Sunday that extended its unsuccessful run in the Catalan derby.
The draw came as a relief for Barcelona but halted its good run after consecutive league victories against Alavés and defending champion Atlético Madrid.
“It was a step backward in the fight for the league,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández said. “It’s going to be hard, but we have to keep fighting until the end.”
The result was enough to move the Catalan club past Atlético and back into fourth place in the final Champions League spot. It is 15 points behind league leader Real Madrid with a game in hand following Madrid’s 0-0 draw at Villarreal on Saturday.
Espanyol, sitting in 13th place, hasn’t beaten Barcelona in the league since February 2009. Its last home victory against its rival was in 2007, though it beat Barcelona in a Copa del Rey match in 2018. Espanyol is winless in its last five league games.
De Jong netted the equalizer with a header from the middle of the area after a long cross by Adama Traoré as the game neared its end.
Barcelona had taken an early lead with Pedri González scoring from close range after a cross by Jordi Alba two minutes into the match at RCDE Stadium. The hosts equalized in the 40th with a shot from outside the area by Sergi Darder.
Barcelona thought it had gone ahead when Gavi Páez found the net early in the second half, but the goal was disallowed for offside. It was Espanyol that took the lead about 10 minutes later, with Raúl de Tomás netting the go-ahead goal after a nice long pass by Darder.
Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué and Espanyol midfielder Nico Melamed were sent off in stoppage time after getting into an altercation.
Barcelona was without Dani Alves, who served the first of his two-game suspension for a red card in the win against Atlético. He was replaced by American Sergiño Dest. Xavi also couldn’t count on forward Memphis Depay because of an injury.
Ousmane Dembélé came off the bench in the second half for his first appearance since not accepting a new deal with the club and rejecting offers to leave in the winter transfer window.
Barcelona was trying to win three consecutive league games for the first time since April 2021, when it won six in a row.
BETIS STAYS HOT
Real Betis strengthened its hold on third place in the Spanish league with a 4-2 win at last-place Levante, with Nabil Fekir scoring twice and Edgar González and William Carvalho adding a goal each to secure Manuel Pellegrini’s team its seventh win in its last nine matches in all competitions.
The win left Betis seven points behind city rival Sevilla, which defeated Elche 2-0 on Friday, and 11 behind Madrid. Betis has a four-point gap to fourth-place Atlético, which beat Getafe 4-3 on Saturday. Atlético has a game in hand.
Betis is one of the hottest teams in Spain under Pellegrini and is still in the Europa League and the Copa del Rey. It won 2-1 at Rayo Vallecano in the first leg of the Copa semifinals on Wednesday.
“We’ve been playing well from the start of the season,” González said. “Everyone feels important in this squad, that has been the key to keep us alive in three different competitions.”
Daniel Gómez scored both goals for Levante, which had striker Roberto Soldado sent off in the 74th. The club from Valencia has lost six of its last seven league matches, including three in a row.
Valencia’s winless streak in the league reached six matches after a 2-1 loss at relegation-threatened Alavés.
Joselu’s 76th-minute penalty kick gave the hosts their second win in three matches and left the club three points from safety.
Mamadou Loum N’Diaye had opened the scoring for Alavés in the 14th before Gonçalo Guedes equalized in the 62nd.
Valencia has lost four of its last six league matches and dropped to 12th in the 20-team standings.
Real Sociedad beat Granada 2-0 for its second win in its last 10 league matches. Mikel Oyarzabal and Rafinha scored a goal in each half to allow the Basque Country team to move within a point of fifth-place Atlético.
Granada has lost four in a row and is winless in six straight in the league. It is four points above the relegation zone.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni