Barcelona travelled to the Balaidos and came away with a hard fought 1-0 win thanks to a header towards the end by defender Jeremy Mathieu. Celta Vigo were reduced to 10 men in the final minutes of the game as the Blaugrana managed to scrape past their opponents with the solitary goal.
After Real Madrid thrashed Granada 9-1, with 5 goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, it was imperative that Barcelona come away with 3 points from this game if they were to maintain their 4 point lead over the capital side. However, Barca found it tough going against an inspired Celta, who once again proved to be a hard nut to crack. The hosts had the first attempt at goal when Larrivey, who had scored in the return fixture when Celta won at the Camp Nou, shot low at goal, but Claudio Bravo was able to parry it away.
That brought an almost immediate response from Barcelona, with Lionel Messi going on one of his trademark runs, but his shot was well saved by goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez while Neymar could only sky the rebound. Another chance fell to Celta but Bravo came out quickly to deny the chance to Nolito. However, the hosts were getting dangerously close to opening the scoring and Larrivey should have put them in front when he lashed at a shot even though he had enough time to take another touch and score with precision.
After the half time break, Barcelona looked to be more positive, and Neymar seemed to have opened the scoring for them only to be judged offside. However, replays showed that the Brazilian was in an on-side position and the goal should have stood. Both sides created opportunities, with Messi and Nolito missing chances for their teams. Dani Alves had another golden opportunity to just after the hour had passed, but his shot went wide.
As the game came down to the last 20 minutes, Gerard Pique made an important last ditch tackle to make sure substitute Charles a shot at goal. That would prove crucial as only minutes later Barcelonaa s Mathieu would latch on to a free kick from substitute Xavi to head the ball into the goal off the past to finally open the scoring. With 3 minutes remaining Celtaa s Orellana was given the marching orders after kicked a bit of the turf onto Busquets. Messi had another chance at the end to seal the game but his chip went over the bar.
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique praised his former club and said that it was an even game.
He said, a Even though we like to have control of the game, you cana t always do that. Celta were the better side in the first half, but in the second half we improved.a
a We knew Celta would make life difficult for us because they are one of the best sides in the league pressuring you.a
a The game was open at all times. It was decided by a set piece, and we knew it could be like that.a
However, Enrique said this win would give them the needed momentum to ensure they went into the final stage of the season with confidence.
Enrique said, a We knew from the start that we would be judged on results. With the game that Celta have demanded from us, ita s a win that strengthens us, above all with the games to come in the next few weeks.a
a Three marvelous points given how we got them.a
He also said that he was happy to be back at his former club, saying, a I am very happy to see a lot of people that I worked with last year again. Ita s always a pleasure to return to Vigo.a