Barcelona have fallen to defeat for a third consecutive home game in the same season for the first time in their history, as Rayo Vallecano won 1-0 in LaLiga Santander at the Camp Nou on Sunday night.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 24, 2022
It followed defeats to Eintracht Frankfurt and Cadiz in the past two fixtures and leaves the Catalans under pressure on 63 points, only six points clear of Real Betis in fifth.
The result also means that Real Madrid can win the LaLiga title with a draw against Espanyol next weekend.
There were only seven minutes on the clock when Barcelona conceded yet another early goal, just as they had against Eintracht and Cadiz, when Alvaro Garcia broke free and fired beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
It was enough to give Rayo Vallecano only their second-ever win at Camp Nou as the Vallecas-based team held on to defend their lead.
Gavi was at the heart of much of what Barcelona did on Sunday night, hitting the crossbar with one fine effort from the edge of the box.
Xavi Hernandez twice felt that Barcelona should have won a penalty, with Gavi being the man going down on both occasions.
Well done Rayo Vallecano!
Barcelona were 12 points behind Real Madrid before Koeman was sacked.
They appointed Xavi, signed Ferran Torres, Aubameyang and Adama Traore.
They are now 15 points behind Real Madrid. pic.twitter.com/7kAEWc8jpc
— Faisal Caesar (@faisalyorker1) April 25, 2022
The strongest claim came in the 90th minute, but it was ruled offside in the build-up.
Rayo continued to defend valiantly and in numbers, facing a total of 16 shots from Barcelona.
In the 14 minutes of injury time that were added on in the second half, Barcelona again hit the woodwork and applied constant pressure on the visitors.
Rayo Vallecano get the opener vs. Barcelona 😳 pic.twitter.com/ciOmhnK8nQ
— ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) April 24, 2022
Xavi ended the game with Ousmane Dembele, Memphis Depay, Adama Traore and Luuk de Jong all on the field as they searched for a win.
However, the best chance in injury time fell to Rayo’s Pathe Ciss, who hit the post as the visitors counter-attacked rapidly.
Rayo Vallecano have all but ensured their safety from relegation, giving themselves a 10-point cushion over the bottom three.
💪⚡️ @RayoVallecano complete the double over Barcelona!
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) April 24, 2022
Back-to-back wins in Catalonia – in midweek against Espanyol and against Barcelona on Sunday night – mean that Rayo can rest easy after ending a run of 14 games without a win.
Barcelona, on the other hand, can expect to see Real Madrid lift the title at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu next weekend.
With Sevilla level on 63 points and Atletico Madrid only two points behind on 61, any further slip-ups could cost Barcelona dearly.
In particular, losing second place could be costly as it would mean that Barcelona would not qualify for next year’s Supercopa de Espana.