Barcelona s head coach Xavi Hernandez celebrates after Barcelona s Memphis Depay scored his side s opening goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 (AP)
The crowd of 74,000 chanted “Xavi! Xavi!” in the sixth minute in honor of the number Xavi wore for 17 seasons when the Spain great helped Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta forge one of soccer’s greatest sides.
He was hired two weeks ago before an international break for club competition when Ronald Koeman was let go after one too many painful defeats. Xavi is back after six years playing and coaching in Qatar as the man the club hopes can restore the team to greatness after years of decline.
Depay broke through for Barcelona two minutes into the second half of the Catalan derby. The Netherlands striker converted a penalty he had earned after a key pass by Gavi Páez.
After barely touching the ball in the first half, Espanyol had two excellent chances to grab a late equalizer. But substitute Landy Dimata headed wide from point-blank range before Raúl de Tomás’s header hit the post.
Barcelona moved into sixth place in the Spanish league, eight points behind leader Sevilla and second-place Real Sociedad.
Ivan Rakitic's stoppage-time goal lifted Sevilla to the top of the table after fighting back for a 2-2 home draw with Alavés.
Atlético Madrid also needed a late goal by center back Felipe Monteiro to edge Osasuna 1-0 at home.
Alavés was poised to get only its second-ever victory at Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium when Rakitic fired home a ball that fell to him from a poorly defended cross.
The draw left Sevilla ahead of Sociedad on goal difference. Sociedad plays Valencia on Sunday, when Real Madrid can also move ahead of Sevilla if it wins at Granada.
Defender Víctor Laguardia powered in a header from a corner kick to give Alavés the fifth-minute lead.
Lucas Ocampos equalized for Sevilla in the 38th, but his handball allowed Joselu Mato to put the visitors back ahead in first-half injury time from the penalty spot.
Atletico stays close
Diego Simeone had loaded Atlético’s starting 11 with attacking players led by Antoine Griezmann, but Osasuna’s stubborn defense had the visitors three minutes from earning a point in the capital.
That was when Felipe jumped high at the near post to slice a cross by Yannick Carrasco into the opposite side of the net and grab the winner.
Carrasco almost added a second goal in stoppage time when Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera was caught off his line, only for the shot from deep to hit the post.
The win left fourth-place Atlético one point behind Real Madrid in third.
Atlético hosts AC Milan on Wednesday in a match that it needs to win to boost its chances of advancing from a tough Champions League group that includes Liverpool and Porto.
Villarreal stayed winless on the road in seven league games this season after Celta Vigo came from behind for a 1-1 draw.