Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano – Football Match Report – 24 April 2022

Barcelona have lost three consecutive home games in the same season for the first time in their illustrious history after suffering a shock 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Alvaro Garcia scored the game’s only goal after just seven minutes, with Barcelona struggling to build attacking momentum for much of the game. Still, Barca hit the woodwork late in both halves, while Gavi had a solid penalty appeal dismissed as the clock approached the 90-minute mark.

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After home defeats to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League and Cadiz in La Liga on Monday, the club have now secured a most undesirable history. Barca had already lost three games in a row at the Camp Nou in 1998, but that was spread over two seasons.

The result also means 11th-placed Rayo completed the league double against Barca for the first time, following their 1-0 home win in October.

Barcelona’s stuttering form has effectively ended their long-held hopes of catching Real Madrid top of the table and means their fierce rivals can now clinch the league title with a draw or home win against Barcelona. ‘Espanyol on Saturday.

Barcelona remain second in the table, level on points with Sevilla and two points ahead of Atletico Madrid. Xavi Hernandez’s side will always be looking a bit nervously over their shoulders with fifth-placed Real Betis six points adrift. Only the top four teams qualify for next season’s Champions League.

“I’m angry, pissed, disappointed,” Xavi told reporters afterwards. “Today was a golden chance to open a gap. But it was a repeat of Frankfurt and Cadiz. We weren’t clinical at all. I think we created enough to at least make draw. And if we get the first goal with enough time, I’m sure the second will follow. It’s complicated for the Champions League. We have to do our self-criticism.”

He added: “We were all excited about the great run in the league and in the Europa League. I understand that it’s not as motivating for the fans and the players to fight for second place. But we have to be in the League. champions, we want to hear the music of the Champions League next season. There is a lot at stake. In the history of Barça, it is about being first, but we must understand and motivate ourselves to finish second.”

Garcia sealed the game for the visitors when he opened the scoring in the seventh minute, receiving the ball inside the box and sending it past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for a flurry of whistles at Camp Nou .

Barcelona failed to convert a number of golden chances despite coming frighteningly close to an equaliser, with the referee playing 14 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half -weather.

Barcelona had a good chance to equalize in the 25th minute but a strike by defender Jordi Alba from the edge of the box was just off target, hitting outside the right post.

Gavi then hit the ball against the crossbar in the 42nd minute, while Spain international Ferran Torres scored in stride but his effort was disallowed for offside.

Xavi introduced three strikers from the bench in the second half as Memphis Depay, Adama Traore and Luuk de Jong all came on before the 71st minute.

Traore scared off the Rayo defense in the 76th minute with a superb cross into the box, but it was cleared by Rayo winger Isi.

Four minutes later, Depay tried his luck from the edge of the area but his shot, right in the middle of the goal, was blocked by goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.

Barcelona continued to press in stoppage time and repeatedly threatened, but Rayo hung on for the three points that took them away from the relegation zone.

Information from Sam Marsden of ESPN and Reuters was used in this report.

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