Barcelona, May 16 (EFE).- It was a sad Barcelona squad that walked off the pitch at Camp Nou on Sunday after going down to defeat 1-2 at the hands of Celta de Vigo, a loss that crushed the Catalan team’s dream of winning the La Liga title.
It was Celta’s fifth consecutive win, although the victory didn’t advance their European hopes since their two rivals – Betis and Villarreal – also won their contests on the weekend.
It was a brace by Santi Mina in the 38th and 89th minutes that gave Celta the victory, although Leonel Messi – who may have played his last match with the team – had gotten Ronald Koeman’s squad on the board first after 28 minutes of play.
The match was played at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona before empty stands due to coronavirus gathering restrictions.
Atletico Madrid beat Osasuna on Sunday, thus keeping the capital squad atop the La Liga rankings, and Real Madrid’s road win over Athletic Bilbao means that they are the only ones who can unseat Atletico and take home the title, provided that Real wins next week and Atletico draws or loses.
Barca, meanwhile, must stave off No. 4 Sevilla, just two points back, for third place.
Barcelona definitely wanted the win, coming out with intensity and Antoine Griezmann almost put the team on the board early in the contest when he rocketed a pass from Messi right at goaltender Ivan Villar, who made a good stop.
Messi secured his 30th league goal of the season on a header after a cross from Sergio Busquets.
But Barca was out in front for only 10 minutes as Santi got a great assist from Iago Aspas and fired from outside the box, scoring on Celta de Vigo’s very first shot of the match.
Ilaix Moriba had another chance for Barca nine minutes after play resumed after the break but he fired high.
Ter Stegen blocked a great low shot from Denis Suarez, but Clement Lenglet was red-carded six minutes before time and Barca was on the ropes with just 10 men.
There was still a chance for the Catalan squad, however, as both Messi and Martin Braithwaite fired – albeit fruitlessly – as the seconds ticked off but Santi was on the scene again for the visitors with a stunning 18-yard gamewinner past a disoriented Ter Stegen just moments before time.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo, Pique (Sergiño Dest, min. 64), Lenglet; Dembele (Trincao, min. 70), Sergio Busquets, Ilaix Moriba (Pjanic, min. 86), Pedri (Riqui Puig, min. 46), Jordi Alba; Griezmann (Braithwaite, min. 70) and Messi.
Celta de Vigo: Villar; Kevin Vazquez, Carlos Dominguez, Nestor Araujo, Aaron Martin; Fran Beltran; Brais Mendez, Denis Suarez, Nolito; Iago Aspas (Miguel Baeza, min. 78) and Santi Mina.
Referee: Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea showed yellow cards to Riqui Puig (min. 56) and expelled Clement Lenglet on a second yellow (min. 73 and 83) for Barcelona and showed a yellow card to Carlos Dominguez (min. 51) with Celta de Vigo.