With a declaration victory against Sevilla, Barcelona showed that it has not yet given in to the battle for the Spanish league.
Barcelona’s refurbished team under coach Xavi Hernandez maintained its momentum and moved for the first time this season to second place after defeating Sevilla 1-0 at home on Sunday.
Pedri Gonzalez broke the deadlock by scoring a beautiful goal in the 72nd minute at Camp Nou Stadium to move the Catalan club past Sevilla and keep his slim title hope alive.
The result left Barcelona 12 points behind leaders Real Madrid, but it has a game in hand. Madrid claimed a 2-1 victory over Celta Vigo on Saturday with a few goals from league scorer leader Karim Benzema.
“We will continue to fight until the math shows that we have no chance,” Xavi said. “We hoped (Madrid) would stumble yesterday, but it did not happen.
Xavi has gradually turned Barcelona into a competitive squad in his first year with the club. Barcelona have the same points as Sevilla and defending champions Atletico Madrid, who won 4-1 at Alaves on Saturday. Sevilla dropped from second to fourth due to the head-to-head tiebreakers.
Barcelona were not as high as second after a difficult start to their first season without Lionel Messi. It reached the top three just a few laps ago.
Barcelona have won eight and drawn one of their last nine matches in all competitions. It has not lost in 13 consecutive games.
Sevilla were second since the 16th round, but gradually lost ground. It had drawn the last three in a row.
Barcelona were mostly in control, but struggled to make significant scoring chances. Defender Gerard Pique almost opened the scoring with a header that hit the crossbar in the 69th. Pedri finally got the winner by destroying his shot twice outside the area before firing in a low strike.
The match came a few hours after the club ratified an agreement with Spotify for at least 12 seasons. The agreement, first announced in March, was approved by 89% of votes in Sunday’s general meeting.
BETIS STAY NEAR TOP
Real Betis sent Osasuna 4-1 to stay within reach of last place in the Champions League.
Juanmi scored twice and William Carvalho and Alex Moreno each added a goal for the hosts’ second victory in the last nine games in all leagues.
The result left Betis four points behind Sevilla, Atletico and Barcelona.
ATHLETIC WIN AGAIN
Athletic Bilbao finished a series of two games without a win with a 2-1 victory over Elche to stay in eighth place, close to the European places.
It was the fourth loss in five games for Elche, which is six points above the drop zone.
Mid-table Valencia were held at home by relegation-threatened Cadiz to 0-0, while 10-man Rayo Vallecano was held at Granada to 2-2 after receiving a penalty four minutes into stoppage time.