Barcelona edge past Villarreal to go 11 points clear in La Liga

Pedri’s 18th-minute goal gave Barcelona a 1-0 win away to Villarreal on Sunday night. As a result, Xavi’s team now have an 11-point lead over La Liga leaders Real Madrid, who are due to play.

Barcelona started on the better side of both teams and were able to take an early lead, but Villarreal goalkeeper Pepe Reina blocked Robert Lewandowski’s shot after just three minutes. Blaugrana excelled among his two teams who dominated possession with his passing game and his three-man fine interaction in midfield.

The away side took the lead in the 18th minute when Pedri stopped a stunning team move. Frenkie de Jong found Rafinha high on the pitch and the Brazilian fed Lewandowski with a near pass. Paul played a quick one-two with Pedri to open up the host’s defense, and the latter finished in style as he fended off Reina.

A few minutes later, Lewandowski was denied again by the Spanish goalkeeper minutes later, with Reina quickly coming down to keep the score at 1–0.

Villarreal should have equalized near the end of the first half but were unable to find the net after José Luis Morales scored from Jules Kunde’s defensive mishaps.

After the restart, both teams showed several yellow cards.

However, Barcelona should have been leading 2-0 just after the hour mark, but Rafinha spread his forces wide after a superb ball from Lewandowski.

Samuel Chukwueze had the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was choke off as Yeremy Pino went into an offside position. Barcelona weathered the pressure from the hosts in the second half but eventually held on and he scored three big points that night.

The Camp Nou side are now on a six-game winning streak and with far fewer European distractions to worry about, they should want to clinch the La Liga title at the end of the season.

Villarreal, meanwhile, have 31 points from 21 games and sit eighth, seven behind the UEFA Champions League spots.

Photo: IMAGO/ZUMA wire