Pedri has put Barcelona 11 points ahead in La Liga

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Pedri has put Barcelona 11 points ahead in La Liga


Pedri got the shot Barcelona A 1-0 win over Villarreal on Sunday moved them 11 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

The champions, who won the Club World Cup on Saturday, take on Elche in midweek to try and get back into the growing gap.

Earlier, Memphis Depay scored his first goal for Atletico Madrid as Diego Simeone’s side beat Celta Vigo 1-0 to strengthen their position in fourth place.

Barcelona rode their luck in a thrilling encounter at the Estadio de la Ceramica but held off a Yellow Submarine attack to continue marching towards their goal of winning the title for the first time since 2019 .

Defender Ronald Araujo made a number of impressive blocks and interceptions to help protect Barcelona’s small team until the end, locking in another clean sheet.

Barcelona have shut out their opponents 16 times in 21 league games this season, conceding just seven goals.

“The truth is we are working hard (defensively),” Araujo told Movistar.

“We had to correct this from last season, when many teams scored against us, and it was difficult for us to keep clean sheets.

“We are good at the back and the midfielders are not leaving any space, they are also in front. The fruits of (our) work.”

La Liga’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski missed two big chances for Barcelona.

However, the Polish international, La Liga’s top scorer, made a tricky pass for Pedri to open the scoring after 18 minutes.

Barcelona produced an impressive team move, the 20-year-old midfielder finished off for his fourth goal in seven games in all competitions.

Jose Luis Morales should have faced Villarreal but he didn’t connect well with a volley and eventually shot wide after the goal.

The hosts, who won against Real Madrid in January, were eager to attack the leaders and it led to an entertaining battle that ebbed and flowed from end to end.

The Catalans face Manchester United in the Europa League next, on Thursday.

“There are many points left (to play), very long,” said Barca coach Xavi.

“The run is exceptional but we can improve things. We are good and very strong. To win these games is very difficult.”

Villarreal, eighth, have now lost three league games.

At the start of Simeone’s Atletico, down to 10 men after Stefan Savic’s red card, Celta broke down but Depay responded quickly to turn and bury the ball in the 89th minute.

The Dutch forward, signed from Barcelona in January, was in La Liga for the first time since September.

“It was a very important goal for the team, and for him,” said Simeone.

“He worked well this week, he needs minutes and will compete in training to earn them.

“There is competition between the players and it is good because it is difficult for us to decide (who will play).”

Goalkeeper Jan Oblak made a string of impressive saves, while Celta striker Iago Aspas hit the crossbar from a free-kick as the home side dominated in Balaidos.

Atletico defender Savic was sent off in the 70th minute for pulling down Swiss player Haris Seferovic on the edge of the area.

Remarkably the Montenegrin defender has been dismissed three times in his last five games in all competitions.

With Atletico out of the European competition and beaten in the Copa del Rey by rivals Real Madrid, securing the Champions League football and fourth on their goal.

The crushing defeat left Celta Vigo in 14th place, unable to add a third win to their victories over Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao.

On the other hand, Rayo Vallecano, sixth, could not defeat Getafe low in the Madrid derby, sharing a 1-1, while Real Valladolid and Osasuna were 0-0.

Real Sociedad, third, travel to face Espanyol on Monday.


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