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Sergio Ramos own goal helps Barca beat Sevilla

Barcelona defender Alejandro Balde fires towards goal against Sevilla. Photo: Pau Barrena/ AFP

Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos’s own goal handed his old enemy Barcelona a narrow 1-0 win over Sevilla on Friday in La Liga, taking the Catalans top of the table.

Veteran centre-back Ramos deflected Lamine Yamal’s header into his own net in the 76th minute to break the deadlock in a tight clash.

The 37-year-old said this week he had planned a special goal celebration if he scored against Barca after his summer return to Spain from Paris Saint-Germain, but putting through his own net was not part of the plan.

Barcelona’s victory helped the Catalans overtake Girona at the top of the table, with their neighbours hosting third-place Real Madrid on Saturday. Xavi’s side were leapfrogged by Girona and Madrid after they drew at Mallorca on Tuesday.

“It’s an important win for us, we deserved it from start to finish,” midfielder Gavi told DAZN.

“We had clear chances in the first half to go in calmly at the break … but (in the end) we won.”

Before the game Sevilla caused a stir by announcing their directors would not attend the traditional lunch or sit in the presidential box in protest at Barcelona’s involvement in the refereeing corruption scandal.

The Catalan club and some of their former directors were charged with bribery on Thursday.

Xavi started winger Raphinha in attacking midfield with Lamine Yamal on the flank, looking for more dynamism behind striker Robert Lewandowski.

The coach also moved Ilkay Gundogan back to a holding midfield role alongside Gavi, dropping Oriol Romeu to the bench after he struggled in the Mallorca draw.

Joao Felix crashed a shot off the crossbar after a fine run by Joao Cancelo as Barcelona made the early running, but Sevilla were sharp on the counter-attack.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen clawed away an effort from former Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic and a shot by Dodi Lukebakio, while Gavi superbly blocked with his chest to foil Lucas Ocampos.

Unlikely source

Xavi’s experiment with Raphinha was cut short when the Brazilian went down injured and he was replaced by La Masia graduate Fermin Lopez, who rescued Barcelona at Mallorca with a late strike.

The midfielder was quickly teed up by 16-year-old starlet Yamal but could only manage a soft shot after a nice touch to cushion the ball.

Lewandowski should have sent Barcelona ahead early in the second half but Sevilla stopper Orjan Nyland produced a superb save after Lopez played him in.

Gavi’s shot was deflected narrowly over as Barcelona turned the screw in search of the opening goal.

Eventually it came, from an unlikely source, with Ramos inadvertently knocking Yamal’s header back into the danger area past Nyland.

Ramos’s touches has been greeted by whistles by Barcelona fans for his history in the Spanish capital, which turned to ironic cheers as his own goal was replayed on the big screen at the Olympic Stadium.

At the age of nine Yamal had stood beside Ramos as a Barcelona mascot in 2016 when the centre-back captained Real Madrid in a Clasico.

Until his own goal, Ramos had played well and helped keep Barcelona at bay.

The defender made a fine block to foil Lewandowski in stoppage time, but by then the damage was done.

“It was a hard-fought game, what we expected it would be, and we had a lot of chances,” Rakitic told DAZN.

“We have a lot to improve. There were some interesting things today, but I want to win. Our ambition is to try and win every game.”

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