A first-half strike from Radamel Falcao was enough to hand Rayo Vallecano a shock 1-0 win over Barcelona on Wednesday and bring an end to Ronaldo Koeman’s reign as coach of the Catalan club.
Koeman was already under huge pressure following Barcelona’s defeat by rivals Real Madrid over the weekend and a second successive LaLiga defeat was quickly followed by the announcement of the Dutchman’s sacking.
The five-times European champions have won only two of their last seven league games and lie ninth in the standings with 15 points.
“FC Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first team coach. The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano,” the LaLiga club said in a statement.
“Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva.”
Colombian striker Falcao pounced in the 30th minute after Barca captain Sergio Busquets lost the ball in midfield and allowed Rayo to launch a quick counter-attack that led to the goal.
After dribbling past Gerard Pique, Falcao finished off in style by finding the back of the net.
Barca had a great chance to equalise in the 72nd minute but Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski saved Memphis Depay’s penalty strike.
In a frantic end to the game, Rayo held on to secure their first league win over Barcelona in 19 years and preserve their unbeaten league run at home this season. They have now won all five of their matches in Estadio de Vallecas.
They are fifth in LaLiga with 19 points from 11 games, only two behind pace setters Real Madrid, Sevilla, Real Betis and Real Sociedad.
“I’m really emotional right now. It’s my first win against Barcelona after playing four times against them (with Atletico). Seeing the fans singing, the joy that they are having in the stands, it’s humbling and satisfying,” a tearful Falcao, who joined Rayo during the close season, told reporters.
After squandering an earlier chance to score, the 35-year-old Falcao capitalised on an uncharacteristic error by Busquets, who lost possession of the ball after getting distracted.
“I made a mistake and I take full responsibility”, Busquets told reporters.
“We are missing a little bit of everything. We have to keep things together and get back on track as soon as possible.”
Barcelona were erratic during the last quarter and never really threatened to score, except when they earned and then missed the spot kick.