Nervy Barcelona Cling On To Beat Celta and Top La Liga
Pedri's goal helped Barcelona earn an agonising 1-0 win over Celta Vigo to move back top of La Liga on Sunday.
Pedri's goal helped Barcelona earn an agonising 1-0 win over Celta Vigo to move back top of La Liga on Sunday. After Real Madrid beat Getafe, Barcelona knew they had to beat the Galicians to head into next Sunday's Clasico as league leaders, but Celta did not make it easy for them. With Barcelona clutching a narrow advantage, the visitors came close to an equaliser at Camp Nou and Marc-Andre ter Stegen earned a sixth consecutive domestic clean sheet with a brilliant save from Iago Aspas late on.
Goncalo Paciencia hit the post in stoppage time with the Catalans on the ropes, begging for the whistle.
"We had a great second half, with four, or five, or six clear chances, but if you don't score at Camp Nou then it's normal that you lose," Aspas told DAZN. "They ended up wasting time on throw-ins."
"UEFA is a mafia," chanted a sector of Barcelona fans, after president Joan Laporta advocated for the Super League again at the club members' annual general meeting on Sunday morning, but their focus soon snapped back to the game.
Barcelona missed a slew of early chances, with Ferran Torres unable to reach a tempting cross and having another effort saved by Agustin Marchesin, while the goalkeeper also did well to claw out a rasping drive from Raphinha.
The pressure soon told and Pedri sent Barcelona ahead in the 17th minute, with Celta defender Unai Nunez accidentally teeing up the Spanish midfielder when he tried to cut out Gavi's cross.
Jordi Alba blasted into the side netting and Pedri delighted fans with a burst forward from midfield, as Barcelona continued to dominate.
However Celta started the second half in determined fashion.
Marcos Alonso made a fine block to deny Oscar Rodriguez from close range as the visitors pushed for the equaliser.
- Missed opportunities -
Xavi responded with a triple change, hooking wingers Torres and Raphinha, as well as resting Pedri for the crucial visit of Inter Milan on Wednesday in the Champions League.
Jorgen Larsen headed home but the goal was disallowed for offside in the build-up against Javi Galan. Ter Stegen made a stunning save to deny Aspas with six minutes remaining from 10 yards out, and Hugo Mallo flashed another effort wide.
Celta substitute Paciencia hit the post from inside the box and former Barca youth player Carles Perez had a shot blocked by a sprawling Barcelona defender.
Xavi's side clung on for the points, making it seven wins on the spin in La Liga, this one coming far harder than the rest.
"We suffered a bit more at the end but in the end, the important thing was to get the three points," Alonso told DAZN.
"We have to improve, we can't concede so many chances in a game that was more or less under control."
Elsewhere Brais Mendez continued his brilliant goalscoring form to earn Real Sociedad a 1-0 win over Villarreal and send the Basque side sixth in La Liga.
The winger now has five goals in six matches in Spain's top flight, with his well-taken 32nd-minute strike securing a deserved triumph for Imanol Alguacil's team.
Real Betis, fifth, drew 0-0 at Real Valladolid. German Pezzella was dismissed in the 35th minute, giving them an uphill challenge in the second half -- just as Luiz Felipe was in the 20th last weekend when they lost 1-0 at Celta Vigo.
Joselu scored twice for Espanyol in a 2-2 draw at Cadiz, with the point taking the Catalan side 17th and dragging Sevilla down to 18th.