Barcelona boss Xavi hailed Luuk de Jong as a “great striker” after the Blaugrana forward netted an injury-time winner against Levante in La Liga on Sunday.
The Camp Nou outfit were forced to fight back from an early second-half deficit and a trio of penalty concessions to come away with the three points.
The match appeared destined for stalemate until De Jong provided the crucial finish seconds out from the final whistle and afterwards, his coach was quick to hail him and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who saved a spot-kick, as top-level performers.
What has been said?
“One of the keys is Marc’s save and another is Luuk’s goal,” Xavi told Movistar+. “These are details that ultimately count. That’s why we have a great goalkeeper and a great striker. They’ve made a great effort.
“The first half wasn’t good at all. The team seemed mentally and physically fatigued. Playing on Thursday still weighed us down. In the second half we were much better.
“The team has settled in well. By working and believing until the end, things are achieved. Luuk’s work is giving us a lot. He is a great professional and he deserves it.”
Xavi bullish on title race
The Blaugrana’s remarkable revival under their former player has led to suggestions that they could be a dark horse contender for the title in La Liga, with a 12-point gap to leaders Real Madrid look potentially doable.
But Xavi has cautioned such thoughts, adding: “The dynamic is very positive and we have to keep going [but] the league is very difficult because Madrid do not fail.
“They have difficult games and so do we. If they drop a point in these two weeks, maybe we can believe something more.”