La Liga: Sloppy Barcelona beats Valladolid 1-0 to stay on Real Madrid's heels

A solitary first-half goal from Arturo Vidal was enough for Barcelona as it beat Valladolid on Saturday to stay on Real Madrid's heels in the La Liga title fight.

Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal celebrates his La Liga goal against Valladolid with his side's captain Lionel Messi.   -  Twitter

Lionel Messi notched a 20th assist of the season to help a lacklustre Barcelona secure a 1-0 win away to Real Valladolid on Saturday, maintaining the pressure on La Liga leader Real Madrid.

Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal struck the only goal of the game in the 15th minute, firing into the net off the post after being played in by Messi, who now has 20 assists in the league to go with his 22 goals.

Yet Barca failed to build on its early advantage and was forced to grind out the victory in the second half as Valladolid took the game to it.

The win took second-placed Barca on to 79 points after 36 games, one behind Real Madrid which can restore its four-point advantage when it visits Granada on Monday.

Should Real beat Granada and follow that with victory at home to Villarreal on Thursday, it will be crowned champion for the first time since 2017. Valladolid meanwhile is 14th on 39, seven above the relegation zone.

“It was a very difficult game against a team who know how to play well and did just that today. The hot conditions also complicated things for us but I'm pleased we won,” said match-winner Vidal.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS | La Liga highlights: Barcelona beats Valladolid 1-0

“We knew that we'd have to work very hard and wouldn't be able to maintain our pace throughout, we know we want to improve but we've kept ourselves in the title race that's the important thing.”

Valladolid's Turkish forward Enes Unal forced Barca's goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to stretch across goal and tip away his shot, moments after Kike Perez had missed the target from inside the area as the home side made a lively start after the break.

Ter Stegen was forced into action once again in added time to repel a shot from former Barca forward Sandro Ramirez as the visitor was left begging for the final whistle to arrive.

The scrappy victory followed Wednesday's narrow derby win over Espanyol and its mesmerising 4-1 thrashing over Villarreal last week feels like an anomaly in a downward trend of performances from Quique Setien's side.

- Celta still not safe after Osasuna snatches late win -

Celta Vigo remains in danger of relegation from La Liga after losing 2-1 away to Osasuna on Saturday, conceding a last-gasp winner after taking an early lead.

Santi Mina knocked in a cross from strike partner Iago Aspas to put Celta ahead in the 11th minute although Osasuna forward Enric Gallego cancelled out the strike midway through the first half.

Osasuna snatched victory in added time with a glanced header from Jose Arnaiz, taking it up to 11th in the standings on 48 points after 36 games.

Celta meanwhile is still nervously looking over its shoulders as it is 16th on 36 points, four above 18th-placed Real Mallorca, which has a game in hand away to fourth-placed Sevilla on Sunday.

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