MADRID: Barcelona suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday and wasted a golden chance to stretch their lead at the top of La Liga.
Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, celebrated their 120th anniversary in fashion as they beat Mallorca 3-1 to close in on city rivals Real Madrid with a difference of just two points.
Alvaro Garcia and Fran Garcia scored goals in each half to upset the lacklustre Barca, who still enjoy a healthy 11 points lead over second-placed Real.
With seven games to play, defending champions Real faced a severe jolt to their title hopes when they were stunned 4-2 at Girona on Tuesday.
Xavi’s side, however, are poised to win their first title since 2019 despite running out of luck at the end of the race as they won just one of their last four league matches – a close win over Atletico on Sunday.
Rayo lived up to the expectations at a sold-out Estadio de Vallecas as they broke the seven-game unbeaten streak of the Catalan giants in the league.
They proved to be the better side for most of the match and took the lead in the 19th minute after Sergio Camello tackled Gavi and quickly fed Alvaro Garcia who fired an unstoppable low shot past Barca goalkeeper.
Rayo doubled their lead in the 52nd minute thanks to a superb effort from Fran Garcia, who stole the ball from Frenkie de Jong in midfield and ripped through the Barca defence to finish with a fine touch past Ter Stegen.
Lewandowski scored the consolation goal for Barca in the 83rd minute.
Earlier Atletico put on an impressive show on their 120th anniversary with Antoine Griezmann assisting two of three goals scored by Rodrigo de Paul, Alvaro Morata and Yannick Carrasco.
Donned in special blue and white kits at home to mark the special occasion, Atletico faced an early setback as Matija Nastasic put Mallorca ahead after 20 minutes of play.
De Paul levelled right before the break after Predrag Rajkovic saved a shot from Griezmann, but the Frenchman crossed the rebound to his teammate.
The host then took the lead early in the second half when Morata fired a header home from Nahuel Molina’s cross.
Carrasco struck the third for his side after 77 minutes after Griezmann set him up with a fine lobbed pass.
Almeria moved up to 15th with a 2-1 win over 10-man Getafe, which left the hosts 17th, one point above the bottom three.
Celta Vigo earned a 1-0 win over rock-bottom Elche thanks to defender Joseph Aidoo’s diving header in the dying minutes of the game.
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