Pedri’s goal helped Barcelona to an agonizing 1-0 win over Celta Vigo on Sunday to return to the top of La Liga. After Real Madrid beat Getafe, Barcelona knew they had to beat the Galicians to go top of the table in next Sunday’s Clasico, but Celta didn’t make it easy for them. With Barcelona holding a narrow lead, the visitors came close to equalizing at the Camp Nou and Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s brilliant late save against Iago Aspas secured a sixth consecutive home clean sheet.
Goncalo Paciencia hit the post in stoppage time with the Catalans on the ropes and asked for the whistle.
“We had a great second half with four, five or six clear chances, but if you don’t score at Camp Nou it’s normal to lose,” Aspas told DAZN. “In the end they wasted time throwing in.”
Barca coach Xavi Hernandez placed left-back Marcos Alonso alongside Gerard Pique in central defence, partly due to injury problems, but otherwise chose his strongest team available.
“UEFA is a mafia,” chanted a section of Barcelona supporters after President Joan Laporta renewed his support for the Super League at the club’s annual general meeting on Sunday morning, but soon turned his attention back to the game.
Barcelona missed a number of early chances, with Ferran Torres failing to reach a tempting cross and another try saved by Agustin Marchesin, while the keeper also did well to pull out a croaking shot from Raphinha.
The pressure quickly eased and Pedri sent Barcelona ahead in the 17th minute, with Celta defender Unai Nunez accidentally hitting the Spanish midfielder as he tried to cut off Gavi’s cross.
Jordi Alba slammed into the side netting and Pedri delighted the fans with a forward thrust from midfield as Barcelona continued to dominate.
However, Celta started the second half with determination.
Marcos Alonso blocked Oscar Rodriguez with a fine block from close range as the visitors pushed for an equaliser.
– Missed Opportunities –
Xavi responded with a triple substitution, hooking wingers Torres and Raphinha and resting Pedri for Wednesday’s crucial Champions League game against Inter Milan.
Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati and Frenkie de Jong, the latter recovering from injury, came on, but it was still Celta who carved out the better openings.
Jorgen Larsen headed home but the goal was disallowed for offside in the run-up to Javi Galan. Ter Stegen saved Aspas with a stunning save from 10 yards six minutes from time and Hugo Mallo flashed wide again.
Celta substitute Paciencia hit the post from inside the box and former Barca youth player Carles Perez was blocked by a wide-ranging Barcelona defender.
Xavi’s side clung to the points and managed seven wins in La Liga, this one being far more difficult than the rest.
“In the end we suffered a little more, but in the end it was important to get the three points,” Alonso told DAZN.
“We have to improve, we can’t allow so many chances in a more or less controlled game.”
Elsewhere, Brais Mendez continued his brilliant goalscoring form to give Real Sociedad a 1-0 win over Villarreal and send the Basque side sixth in La Liga.
The winger has now scored five goals in six games in Spain’s top flight, with his 32nd-minute strike giving Imanol Alguacil’s team a deserved triumph.
Real Betis, fifth, drew 0-0 at Real Valladolid. German Pezzella was sent off in the 35th minute, giving them a tough challenge in the second half – just like Luiz Felipe was in the 20th minute last weekend when they lost 1-0 at Celta Vigo.
Joselu scored twice for Espanyol in the 2-2 draw in Cadiz, the point taking the Catalan side to 17th place and relegating Sevilla to 18th.
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