Pedri gives Barcelona 6th straight win at summit of La Liga table

Madrid, Feb 12 (EFE).- Barcelona scored its sixth consecutive win on Sunday, knocking off Villarreal 1-0 on the road and continuing its apparently unstoppable advance toward the La Liga title.

With the win, the Catalan squad is 11 points ahead of its nearest challenger Real Madrid, who postponed its match against Elche until Wednesday due to the Club World Cup competition Saturday, which it won.

The match at Estadio de la Ceramica was hard-fought, with Barca hitting for an early goal in minute 18 by Pedri Gonzalez and then going on to control the contest for the duration.

Barca did not have the services of team captain Sergio Busquets or winger Ousmane Dembele due to injuries, and manager Xavi Hernandez put midfielder Frenkie de Jong and forward Raphinha in as substitutes.

Villarreal started the match without striker Gerard Moreno, on the injured list, and midfielder Francis Coquelin went down with a knee injury in the first half and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.

The result was the third straight loss for No. 8 Villarreal, which has only won one of its last six matches in all competitions, while Barca has won 11 of its last games in all competitions.

Meanwhile, Memphis Depay got a virtually last-gasp tally in minute 88 to put a short-handed Atletico Madrid over Celta Vigo 1-0 and remain in the fourth spot on the La Liga table, holding onto its Champions berth.

Jan Oblak did well in the net for Atletico and it was defender Stefan Savic who was expelled in the 70th minute, leaving the Madrid squad with just 10 men on the turf.

With the win, Atletico stands four points ahead of No. 5 team Real Betis, while Celta fell to 14th place.

EFE jap/bp

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