Barcelona laboured to a 1-0 victory over Valladolid on Saturday, a result that sees them move within a point of leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand.
Los Blancos next play on Monday, where they know victory will move them four points clear with just two rounds of fixtures remaining, but their seemingly inevitable title coronation was put on hold for another week at least courtesy of Arturo Vidal’s emphatic strike.
Lionel Messi fed the Chilean in the box after some early pressure on the hosts, and Vidal made no mistake with a thumping low drive that went in via the inside of the far post.
It appeared as though the Blaugrana would push on from there, but their attacking play deteriorated from the moment that the goal went in, with the duo of Antoine Griezmann and Messi struggling for service against their gritty hosts.
Valladolid came within a whisker of drawing level in the first half through Kike Perez, but the forward got his legs tangled up when clean through on goal and struck the turf instead of the ball with the goal at his mercy.
The match followed a similar path in the second half, as Barcelona were saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen who kept out Enes Ünal’s header. Messi had a free kick tipped over later on, but it remained Valladolid who looked the more likely scorers with some intricate play in Barça’s half.
For all their endeavour they could not find a way past Ter Stegen, but in particular man-of-the-match Gerard Pique, who was outstanding in the heart of defence and instrumental in Quique Setien’s side claiming all the spoils.
Barça are next in action on Thursday when they host Osasuna, but cannot afford to drop any points if they are to steal the title away from Zinedine Zidane’s men, who look on course to secure their first La Liga title in three years.
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