La Liga Roundup: Barcelona fail to hold on to lead with shock defeat at Almeria
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona suffered a rare setback in the domestic title race, losing 1-0 at Almeria on Sunday in the Spanish league, three days after being eliminated from the Europa League.
Barcelona traveled to southern Spain with Atletico Madrid held to a 1-1 draw by second-placed Real Madrid with the chance to move seven points clear of their arch-rivals. Instead, Barcelona suffered their first defeat against Almeria in their 16th meeting.
The leaders were unable to mount a convincing fightback despite having enough time to respond to striker El Bilal Toure’s goal in the 24th minute.
Barcelona were unbeaten in 13 league games, with just one draw and 12 wins until their last loss at Madrid in October.
Sunday’s surprise defeat came after a 2-1 defeat at Manchester United sent Barcelona out of the Europa League _ after failing to progress from the Champions League group stage for the second straight year. Relegation from Europe’s second-tier competition has left Barcelona with the Spanish league and domestic cup titles to play with as it tries to recoup its investment in new players last summer, using future TV revenue and cash from the sale of other assets.
Barcelona will now have to regroup to visit Real Madrid on Thursday in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey.
Almeria moved out of the relegation zone after earning one of its biggest wins.