The Catalans scraped out a close victory at the Balaidos in the race to keep up the momentum at the top of the Liga table. It was an intense affair at Vigo as 23 thousand supporters were present to witness the battle between the table toppers and the home side of Celta in the 29th game day of La Liga.
A day ago arch-rivals Real Madrid thrashed Granada by a humongous 9-1 score line and gave tremendous pressure to the Catalans to perform positively in this fixture. Cristiano Ronaldo leapfrogged Lionel Messi as the Liga top scorer due to his 5 goals in the high scoring game.
It was everything to play for as far as Barcelona were concerned and the game against Celta De Vigo was a tricky one as Celta had surprisingly beaten Barcelona at the Camp Nou by a score of 1-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Celta’s determination in this fixture was highly evident as they were attacking head to head against a Barcelona side. Eleven minutes into the game Claudio Bravo was tested by Larrivey who struck a low shot which got eventually parried away by Barcelona keeper.
This massacre at the back for Barcelona was complemented soon by a positive move by Lionel Messi. The Argentine pulled off one of his trademark runs from the right hypnotizing the Celta defenders and making space well enough to pull off a shot. But much to his disappointment his shot was fabulously saved by Sergio Alvarez. This was an early sign in the game that Leo was looking to close down the gap between himself and Ronaldo in the race for the Liga top scorer. Neymar followed up on the save from Alvarez only to hit his shot way off target.
Minutes before the half time, Celta agonizingly find their goal ruled out due to offside. A long ball over the top of the defense was played into the feet of Orellano who had surged in behind the Barca defense. Orellano despite being charged down by Bravo managed to sneak in a shot at the far post but his poor shot was struck into the net by Hernandez who came chasing behind. But replays suggested that both Orellano and Hernandez were offside when the long ball was played.
Into the second half, Barcelona get a goal ruled out to an incorrect offside decision by the linesman. Neymar was clearly onside and level with the last Celta man. Neymar clearly deserved a goal but unfortunately his effort was cancelled out void due to some erroneous refereeing.
Enrique made a change in order to enforce some attack. He brought of Rafinha for Xavi as he wanted Barcelona to control the midfield a bit more. The clock was winding down and the Catalans were still in pursuit of their first goal of the evening.
Barcelona continued their hunt for the first goal intensely and Xavi shot way wide in the 68th minute following a wonderful Barcelona passing move. As time passed on Celta were settling more and more at the back and Barcelona were attacking almost from all acres of the field.
Berizzo tweaked his Celta side too by adding fresh legs to the attack by bringing on Charles for Larrivey.
And his change almost fruited as Charles came close to scoring the opening goal of the game in the 70th minute but a timely intervention from Gerard Pique saved a struggling Barcelona side desperate for a victory.
Pique’s effort to avoid conceding a goal at the other end proved vital as three minutes later Mathieu scored from his head as he dived to reach a free kick from Xavi. This was the second goal of Mathieu in the last two games the last goal coming from him in the El Clasico at the Camp Nou again from an indirect free kick.
Celta made sure that Barcelona didn’t heave a sigh of relief after scoring the opening goal of the night by relentlessly attacking the Barcelona defense at regular intervals. But Barcelona’s defense was persistent and eager to hang on to the precious and hard fought one goal lead.
In the 87th minute there was drama to unfold in this game. Sergio Busquets was thrown a small chunk of turf on his neck by Orellana. Orellana was given a straight red card for this gesture. Celta were now down to ten men and things were slipping out of their hands.
Barcelona fought very hard to preserve the crucial one goal lead and their efforts were almost whitewashed away in the last minute had it not been for the impeccable tackle by Busquets to deny Nolito from taking a shot inside the six-yard area in front of the Barca goal.
The Catalans finished the game and managed to scrape out a close call one goal victory at Vigo. Thye took maximum points from this game and ensured that despite the mamothian scoreline put up by Madrid against Granada they are still four points behind the Catalans in the Liga race.
It was a positive night yet again for Barcelona but probably Lionel Messi would have felt disappointed somewhere as he now stands goals behind his arch rival Ronaldo in the Liga top scorer race. He couldn’t get his name onto the score sheet and surprisingly it was a Barcelona defender to snatch a victory for his side rather than anyone from the high flying attacking trio.
MATCH VENUE: Estadio de Balaidos, Vigo
Celta De Vigo (4-3-3):
Alvarez; Castro, Fontas, Cabral, Mallo; Krohn-Dehli (Radoja 67’), Fernandez, Hernandez (Santi mina 83’); Nolito, Larrivey (Charles 71’), Orellana
Bravo; Dani Alves, Pique, Mathieu, Adriano; Rafinha (Xavi 58’), Iniesta (Pedro 75’), Busquets; Neymar, Suarez (Rakitic 87’), Messi
REFEREE: Bikandi Garrido
Nolito 90’ (Yellow)
Krohn-Dehli 24’ (Yellow)
Orellana 87’ (Red)
Busquets 88’ (Yellow)
Suarez 45’+ (Yellow)