Barcelona leapfrogged Real Madrid to take back top spot in La Liga as they limped to a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo to record their sixth consecutive league clean sheet for the first time since May 2015.
The Spanish giants, despite struggling in Europe so far this season, have been dominant domestically, and they bossed the first half. After several good opportunities, the hosts broke the deadlock in the 17th minute, and it was a horrible moment for the visitors.
A Jordi Alba pass over the top released Gavi down the left and his ball across was cut out by Unai Núñez. Unfortunately for the Athletic Bilbao loanee, his attempted clearance was only diverted into the path of the arriving Pedri, who tucked home with glee as Marchesín was left wrong-footed by his team-mate’s poorly executed intervention.
Edouard Coudet’s side came into the game more after the 30-minute mark, but Barça felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Raphinha went over Javi Galán’s left leg. However, referee José Luis Munuera Montero felt the Brazilian had initiated the contact and waved away the protests, much to the winger’s anger.
The balance of play shifted at the start of the second half. Óscar Rodriguez was left kicking himself just after the break after blazing off target when in a glorious position to convert Iago Aspas’ through ball, and shortly afterwards, Marcos Alonso mopped up in his own area as Aspas looked to link up with Jørgen Strand Larsen.
The former Chelsea wing-back then produced a vital block to prevent Óscar equalising from close range before Marc-André ter Stegen’s poor kick was intercepted on the edge of his box, but not suitably punished.
Celta thought they had levelled when Strand Larsen nodded home on 68 minutes, only for the offside flag to go up against Galán. Late on, Ter Stegen got down smartly to keep out Aspas’ low strike and Gonçalo Paciência and Hugo Mallo also had chances as some late last-ditch defending was required.
Xavi’s men next face Inter Milan in a must-win Champions League clash on Wednesday before a huge El Clásico, while Celta host Real Sociedad on Sunday.