SHOWS: HUESCA, SPAIN (JANUARY 3, 2021) (MEDIAPRO/LA LIGA - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES)
1. BARCELONA MANAGER RONALD KOEMAN AT POST MATCH NEWS CONFERENCE AFTER DEFEATING HUESCA 1-0
2. (SOUNDBITE)(Spanish) BARCELONA MANAGER RONALD KOEMAN AFTER BEING ASKED ABOUT SCORING ONLY ONE GOAL DESPITE PLAYING WELL FOR MOST OF THE MATCH, SAYING:
"I think that apart from the last 20 minutes we were very good playing our game. We created a lot of danger which isn't easy against a team that pulls back in defense with lots of defensive players. But I think that we were patient enough to wait and play on the wings, we scored a good goal and had three or four other chances to get the second. In the second half maybe we were lacking...something, in the second half our game wasn't quite as good on the ball as we were, we had the ball but weren't able to create as much danger. We suffered a bit right at the end because Huesca tried to create something, they didn't create much but they crossed the ball into the box forcing us to defend well. You always suffer if you don't finish off a match."
3. WHITE FLASH
4. (SOUNDBITE)(Spanish) BARCELONA MANAGER RONALD KOEMAN AFTER BEING ASKED IF HE BELIEVES TEAM CAN COMPETE FOR LA LIGA TITLE UNTIL THE END OF SEASON, SAYING:
"I think that this month is very important for our aspirations. We have a lot of games away from home and if we win I think we're going to be able to fight until the end. But it also depends on the results of the other teams and it's not easy to win away from home and all the games are close at the minute and if you end up on a bad streak we can cut the distance with the teams, but we need to win."
HUESCA, SPAIN (JANUARY 3, 2021) (ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)
5. STILL PHOTO OF BARCELONA'S LIONEL MESSI (MAKING HIS 500TH LA LIGA APPEARANCE FOR THE CLUB) BEING HELD BY HUESCA'S JAVI ONTIVEROS
6. STILL PHOTO OF BARCELONA'S MESSI WITH BALL
7. STILL PHOTO OF BARCELONA'S FRANKIE DE JONG SCORING GOAL IN 27TH MINUTE TO TAKE 1-0 LEAD
8. STILL PHOTO OF BARCELONA CELEBRATING AFTER DE JONG'S GOAL
9. STILL PHOTO OF BARCELONA'S DE JONG AFTER SCORING GOAL
STORY: Barcelona edged La Liga's basement club Huesca 1-0 on Sunday (January 3) courtesy of a Frenkie de Jong goal made by Lionel Messi in the Argentine's 500th league appearance for the club.
Dutch midfielder De Jong arrived at the far post to meet a Messi cross and score on the volley in the 27th minute to give the visitors a deserved lead after a rampant start.
But Ronald Koeman's side failed to take their many other chances and in the end were made to sweat for all three points.
Huesca could have levelled in the second half when the ball trickled across Barca's area and striker Rafa Mir directed a backheel at goal but the shot lacked power and keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen made the save despite seeing the ball late.
The win took Barca above Sevilla and into fifth place in the standings on 28 points, 10 behind leaders Atletico Madrid who beat Alaves 2-1 earlier on and who have a game in hand on the Catalans. Huesca stay bottom with 12 points.
Barca had been held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Eibar in their last match and had also lost Philippe Coutinho to a serious knee injury but they could at least welcome back Messi, who had missed that match with an ankle problem.
The Argentine looked slightly off the pace in his milestone league match and wildly missed the target with a left-footed volley in the first half when the sensible option would have been to take it with his right.
He made amends with a clever piece of play for the only goal of the game, however, picking out De Jong with a sensational, curling cross.
Messi came close to scoring himself late in the first half with a free kick but Huesca keeper Alvaro Fernandez got across to tip his shot over the crossbar.
(Production: David Grip)