Ferran Torres’s strike helped Barcelona emerge from a current droop to earn a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday in La Liga, taking a giant step in direction of clinching their first title since 2019. Sevilla, recent from thrashing Manchester United within the Europa League, snatched a late winner to beat high-flying Villarreal 2-1, with Youssef En-Nesyri heading residence in stoppage time. After two consecutive goalless attracts for Barca, second-place Actual Madrid minimize into their lead by beating Celta Vigo on Saturday, however Torres’s low first-half end restored their benefit to 11 factors with eight video games remaining.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico, third, arrived as Spain’s most in-form facet however Torres stroked residence from the sting of the field within the forty fourth minute to safe victory for Xavi Hernandez’s facet.
Either side had clear possibilities to attain within the second half however Barcelona held on to their result in inflict Atletico’s first defeat since these sides met in January on the Metropolitano.
The hosts recorded a twenty third clear sheet of the season in La Liga, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen making a high quality save to disclaim Antoine Griezmann an equaliser.
“I’ve at all times stated Marc is among the many prime three goalkeepers on the earth, and for our sport, I feel he is one of the best,” Xavi informed reporters.
“He is a assure, our defence too — defensive work is prime and Marc has been decisive at varied moments.”
Xavi introduced Frenkie de Jong again into the beginning line-up after damage, however Pedri needed to make do with a seat on the bench after his two-month absence.
Griezmann nearly struck instantly in opposition to his former facet, rattling the crossbar with a high quality effort from distance throughout the first minute.
Barcelona broke the impasse simply earlier than the interval, with Raphinha controlling an extended ball and crossing to Torres on the sting of the field, who swept the ball residence previous Jan Oblak.
It was Barcelona’s first aim since Torres’ strike in opposition to Elche on April 1, ending a painful run of three video games with out discovering the online.
– Finish-to-end –
Barcelona introduced on Pedri to roars from the Camp Nou within the second half.
Gavi and Raphinha each mishit efforts from point-blank vary within the house of some seconds that ought to have put the sport out of attain, earlier than Ter Stegen palmed away Griezmann’s crafty flick.
“It is a proven fact that being decisive makes you champions — in the event you’re robust in each bins, you could have a a lot greater likelihood of being champions,” stated Simeone.
Barcelona had one other golden alternative to attain a second however Robert Lewandowski selfishly shot broad from distance as he and Raphinha ran by way of on aim.
A easy move would have left the Brazilian with an open aim, however determined to enhance his poor goalscoring kind in 2023 — he solely has 4 league targets because the flip of the 12 months — Lewandowski went alone and scuffed his effort broad.
“Ferran is the happiest man on the earth; Raphinha and Lewandowski are a bit unhappy,” Xavi added.
“Pleased as a result of the staff has received, however unhappy as a result of they haven’t scored. Lewandowski is the highest scorer with 17 targets — think about how all of the others really feel.”
The Polish striker was not punished for his profligacy as Barcelona survived a late handball enchantment in opposition to Sergio Busquets to triumph.
– Sevilla safe –
After knocking Premier League giants Man United out of the Europa League in midweek, Sevilla produced one other spectacular victory in opposition to Villarreal, sixth.
Since coach Jose Luis Mendilibar arrived the Andalusians are unbeaten in six video games and much more strong than beneath his predecessor Jorge Sampaoli, climbing to twelfth, eight factors above the underside three.
Rafa Mir slammed Mendilibar’s revived facet forward within the first half however Villarreal defender Pau Torres pegged them again from shut vary.
Jesus Navas got here near a winner for Sevilla with a low drive which whistled previous the submit, earlier than En-Nesyri, who netted twice in opposition to United, despatched the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan into raptures once more within the 94th minute.
Valencia earned a cushty 2-0 win on the highway in opposition to bottom-of-the-table Elche, however stay within the relegation zone, 18th, as they’ve a worse head-to-head file with Almeria in seventeenth.
Getafe’s 3-1 defeat by Mallorca leaves the Madrid facet sixteenth, only a level above Almeria and Valencia.