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La Liga: Barcelona defeat Villarreal to go 11 points clear

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Villarreal 0 1 Barca
Barcelona midfielder Pedri celebrating a goal in the match. | PHOTO: Fotmob |
  • Villarreal played host to Barcelona in the La Liga on Sunday evening at the El Madrigal
  • Barca headed into the match eight points clear at the summit of La Liga and eager to extend the lead
  • Pedri scored the lone goal of the match as Xavi’s side went 11 points clear at the top

Barcelona defeated Villarreal 1-0 to increase their La Liga lead to 11 points thanks to Pedri’s first-half goal.

Barca took good advantage at El Madrigal of Real Madrid’s absence while competing in the Club World Cup, which they won with a victory over Al Hilal on Saturday.

With 18 minutes remaining, Pedri scored after collaborating with Robert Lewandowski, who had two shots stopped by Villarreal goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Late in the game, Villarreal had the ball in the net, but Samuel Chukwueze’s goal was disallowed and Barcelona jumped ahead of Madrid, who still have a game to play.

Reina denied Lewandowski from a one-on-one inside the first three minutes, but the Poland striker played a big part in Barca’s breakthrough goal.

Villarreal 0-1 Barcelona

Barcelona players celebrate after Pedri scored the winner against Villarreal in La Liga. | PHOTO: SPORT |

Pedri played a quick one-two with Lewandowski, controlled the return pass when it arrived to him in front of goal and calmly tucked the ball away from Reina.

Lewandowski was again thwarted by Reina when going for goal himself, but Villarreal gave Barca a scare as Jose Luis Morales raced through and fired into the side-netting.

Both sides continued to create the occasional opening, with Raphinha sending an effort across the face of goal and Alex Baena flashing wide from further out at the other end.

Villarreal edged the second period and thought they had levelled through Chukwueze, but Yeremy was flagged for offside as Barca kept a fifth clean sheet in six league games.

Barcelona’s winning run continues

Barcelona have now won 11 games in a row in 2023 and are unbeaten in a 16-game run stretching back to October, keeping nine clean sheets in that period.

Villarreal had their moments, but Barca will feel they were good value for the win as they finished with an expected goals (xG) return of 1.47 compared to their opponents’ 1.11.

The Catalan club have lost only one of their past 28 league matches against Villarreal, who have now lost three in a row in La Liga for the first time since March 2020.

Pedri proving the difference

Villarreal 0–1 FC Barcelona

Pedri scored the winner for Barcelona in the La Liga clash against Villarreal. | PHOTO: FC Barcelona |

 

Pedri is proving to be a difference-maker for Barcelona, having now scored the winning goal in 1-0 wins over Getafe, Girona and Villarreal since the World Cup break.

He has scored seven goals overall this term, which is bettered only by Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham (10) among players aged under 21 across Europe’s top five leagues.

Lewandowski fires another blank

Lewandowski can be pleased with his assist for Pedri’s goal, which evoked memories of Barca’s tiki-taka past, but he will be disappointed not to have scored from his three attempts.

The former Bayern Munich striker has now scored only one goal in his past six La Liga games, yet he remains three goals clear in the race for the Pichichi Trophy.

Barcelona host Manchester United in the first leg of their Europa League knockout play-off round tie on Thursday, while Villarreal travels to Real Mallorca in their next league game in a week’s time.

 

Nathan Sialah is a journalist by profession with interest in politics, sports, cryptocurrency and human interests with 5 years experience in Radio and Digital Journalism. This has helped Sialah develop a responsible approach to any task he undertakes or any situation that he is presented with.

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