Barcelona, Spain, Apr 24 (EFE).- Barcelona, which had marked Sunday in red due to its important pending match against visiting Rayo Vallecano, fumbled the outing, falling 1-0 to the club that had been hovering just a spot or two above the relegation threshold but with the win shot up to 11th, thus almost certainly saving itself for this season.
The match had barely started when Alvaro Garcia swooped in at Camp Nou before some 57,000 spectators to score against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s net in the 7th minute, the only tally of the match, although Barca fired up to 12 shots on goal, the last flurry coming from Adama and Dembele in extra time and even claimed a penalty, which at first had seemed clear in 89th-minute action between Catena and Gavi but which VAR found was a no-go.
The lone goal came after Isi Palazon finessed his way through the Catalan team’s midfield, then sent the ball to Alvaro, who had darted into the middle zone from the left, controlled the ball with his left foot and beat Ter Stegen with a right-footed shot.
With the defeat, the Catalan squad has suffered three consecutive losses on its home turf for the first time in its history – including the Europa League match against Eintracht Frankfurt and its last two La Liga outings against the lowly Cadiz and the formerly lowly Rayo – and it is seeing its chance to end up at No. 2 on the table, the only thing the team can hope for at this late stage with Real Madrid 15 points ahead and five games to go.
Xavi Hernandez’s men have won just twice in their last six outings, but they should still be able to wind up in the top four for the season.
Calling it a missed “golden opportunity,” after the match Hernandez said that “There are games that become complicated because we don’t start out like we should.”
Yet, it’s been frustrating for all to see the team stumble so in the recent past, and Real Madrid can clinch the title if they can manage at least a draw against No. 13 Espanyol at home next weekend.
With the loss, Barca has 63 points, even with Sevilla, who are in third place, with Atletico Madrid in the No. 4 slot, just two points back and Real Betis in fifth with 57.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dest (Lenglet, min. 46), Araujo, Eric Garcia (Adama, min. 71), Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Frenkie de Jong (Nico, min. 60); Dembele, Ferran (Memphis, min. 60) and Aubameyang (Luuk de Jong, min. 71).
Rayo Vallecano: Dimitrievski; Balliu, Maras, Catena, Fran Garcia; Isi (Mario Hernandez, min. 86), Santi Comesaña (Pathe Ciss, min. 55), Oscar Valentin (Trejo, min, 66), Alvaro Garcia; Unai Lopez (Mario Suarez, min. 86) and Nteka (S. Guardiola, min. 55).