La Liga: Barca's title bid blunted after 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo

Barcelona's hopes to defend its La Liga title were dealt a blow after a late goal from Iago Aspas earned Celta Vigo a 2-2 draw.

Celta Vigo players celebrate Iago Aspas' second goal as Lionel Messi (left) walks off dejected in the La Liga match on Saturday.   -  getty images

Barcelona was held by Celta Vigo to 2-2 after conceding in the 88th minute on Saturday, opening the way for Madrid to take sole possession of the lead.

Iago Aspas scored from a clever low free kick that went outside the wall to steal the win from Barcelona, which moved only one point in front of Madrid ahead of the rival's visit to last-placed Espanyol on Sunday.

"It's a disappointing feeling, we lost two very important points in the fight for the title," Barcelona striker Luis Suárez said. "Now we have to wait for Real Madrid to lose some points."

READ: Celta Vigo 2-2 Barcelona - As it happened

Barcelona lost the league lead after drawing at Sevilla two rounds ago. Madrid has yet to lose points after the pandemic break.

"Our margin for error is getting smaller," Barcelona coach Quique Setién said. "We have to win everything and hope that our rival makes mistakes."

Celta moved further away from demotion with the draw, opening an eight-point gap to the relegation zone. It was coming off two victories, including a 6-0 rout of Alavés.

"We've won eight of the last 12 points, we have to be very happy with the team," Aspas said.

Both Barcelona goals came from Suárez, who hadn't scored since recovering from surgery on his right knee in January.

Aspas, who hit the post in the first half, started the breakaway that led to the close-range equalizer by Russian striker Fiodor Smolov in the 50th.

Suárez put Barcelona ahead again with a shot from near the center of the area after another assist by Messi in the 67th, but Aspas pulled off the late equalizer with his free kick that left Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen flat-footed.

"I knew what I was going to do," Aspas said. "We had watched videos and knew that the players in the wall were going to jump."

Stegen later saved Barcelona from leaving Vigo without any points by making a goal-line save after a close-range shot by Nolito in the final minutes.

Barcelona hadn't conceded in five straight matches. It hasn't won at Celta in six consecutive matches, since 2015.

Setién started youngsters Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig, leaving Antoine Griezmann on the bench for most of the match at Balaídos Stadium.

OTHER RESULTS

Athletic Bilbao increased its chances of qualifying for the Europa League by defeating relegation-threatened Mallorca 3-1 at home, moving to ninth place.

The Basque Country club is three points behind sixth-placed Villarreal in the final qualification spot for second-tiered European club competition.

Mallorca, winless since the league resumed, remained in the relegation zone and could drop to last place depending on other results.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

Read the Free eBook

  Dugout videos