Pedri leads win at Girona in 100th game for Barcelona

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Pedri marked his 100th Barcelona appearance by scoring to squeeze past Girona 1-0 and increase their lead of the Spanish league on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Pedri started on the bench as Xavi rotated his lineup ahead of a busy week, but the playmaker replaced the injured Ousmane Dembélé in the 25th minute.

Girona stymied the league front-runner until Pedri's fellow substitute, Jordi Alba, found him with a low cross at close range in the 61st. Pedri, who won the 2021 Golden Boy for the continent’s most promising under-21 player, is considered one of the pillars of Barcelona’s post-Messi rebuild. The Spain midfielder has scored six times this season.

Xavi’s team moved six points clear of Real Madrid before the titleholder hosts third-placed Real Sociedad on Sunday at the Liga's midway point.

Dembélé asked to be substituted after he was apparently bothered by his left thigh following a sprint. Barcelona has yet to give any information on his status. He walked off the field and watched the rest of the game from the dugout.

The France forward, who suffered a series of injuries in his first seasons with Barcelona, has avoided serious injury since returning from a knee issue in November 2021 and became one of its leading players.

That left Barcelona without its top two scorers. Robert Lewandowski, who leads the league with 13 goals, completed a three-game suspension in the league. Forward Ferran Torres was also suspended.

Girona coach Michel was sent off in stoppage time with a direct red card for vehemently protesting what he thought was a foul on one of his players.


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Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press