Competition Focus

Teenager Yamal scores for Barcelona to beat Mallorca in La Liga. Napoli next up in Champions League

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Teenager Lamine Yamal curled in a second-half goal to grab Barcelona a 1-0 win over Mallorca at home on Friday, lifting the defending Spanish league champions into second place.

Yamal’s exquisite shot from just inside the corner of the area for the 73rd-minute goal salvaged an otherwise lackluster Barcelona from a second straight draw.

It was the 16-year-old Yamal’s sixth goal across all competitions in his first full season with Barcelona. He’s set several milestones for his young age, such as the youngest player to debut and to score in the Spanish league, to score for Spain, and to start in the Champions League.

“I was trying to keep their left back occupied, but since they gave the space I went for my shot,” Yamal said about his goal. “Now we have to think about the Champions League, where we face one of the most important games of the season.”

Coach Xavi Hernández kept Robert Lewadowski on the bench until the final half hour, resting him before Tuesday’s Champions League match against Napoli to see which advances to the quarterfinals. Their first game in Italy ended 1-1.

Barcelona moved two points ahead of Girona before it hosts Osasuna on Saturday. Leader Real Madrid is five points clear of Barcelona before hosting Celta Vigo on Sunday.

The other standout player for Barcelona was 17-year-old center back Pau Curbasí, who excelled again with his defending and passing.

Mallorca goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic kept the game close. He saved a penalty taken by Ilkay Gundogan in the first half after Raphinha was fouled in the area by José Copete. Rajkovic also got just enough of a touch of a Yamal shot to push it onto his bar early in the second half.

Raphinha would eventually need to be substituted in the first half, apparently for the knock to his leg by Copete that was penalized.

Xavi said Raphinha did not appear to be seriously injured and he expected him to be good to go against Napoli.

Barcelona was without first-choice midfielders Pedri González and Frenkie de Jong after they were injured in the previous round’s scoreless draw at Athletic Bilbao.

Mallorca, which will play Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final next month, was left in 15th place.


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