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Xavi Hernandez started his Barcelona managerial career with a derby win as Memphis Depay scored from the penalty spot in a 1-0 victory over Espanyol.
The Camp Nou welcomed Xavi back to the club following his appointment as Ronald Koeman’s replacement before the international break and there were signs of how the former midfielder will change the Catalans.
Barca controlled much of the first half as they looked to keep hold of possession and press high on the opposition, as Barca teams traditionally do, but Espanyol did a good job of keeping things tight at the back.
Raul de Tomas came close to opening the scoring, but had his shot from a tight angle deflected just over Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s crossbar as Barcelona continued to control the ball.
Espanyol made it to the break level, but finally fell behind just three minutes into the second half when Memphis converted from 12 yards out after the controversial award of a penalty kick.
De Tomas was presented with a golden opportunity to restore parity, but sent a strike wide of the post after being released in behind the Barcelona high line through a quickly-taken freekick.
The intensity of Barcelona’s pressing dropped as the match moved into its final phase with Espanyol pushing for an equaliser that nearly came through de Tomas who hit the outside of the post with a freekick.
Substitute Nany Dimata should have found the back of the net soon after, but somehow put his unchallenged header wide from just six yards out before de Tomas struck the post for a second time.
However, an exhausted Barcelona team hung on for all three points and a result that moved them up to sixth place in the La Liga table.
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