Barcelona stunned by 1-0 loss at Almeria, fails to grow lead

Sports

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Three days after exiting the Europa League, Barcelona had a rare setback in the domestic title race after losing at Almeria 1-0 in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Barcelona headed to southern Spain a day after second-place Real Madrid was held 1-1 by Atletico Madrid and had the chance to add to its seven-point lead at the top over its fierce rival. Instead, Barcelona flopped to its first-ever loss to Almeria in their 16th meeting.

The leaders were unable to mount a credible fightback despite having ample time to respond to striker El Bilal Touré’s goal in the 24th minute.

Barcelona hadn’t lost in 13 league games, with only one draw and 12 wins going back to its last defeat at Madrid in October.

The unexpected defeat on Sunday came after a 2-1 loss at Manchester United eliminated Barcelona from the Europa League — after it had failed to advance from the Champions League group phase for a second consecutive year. The exit from Europe’s second-tier competition left Barcelona with the Spanish league and domestic cup titles to play for as it tries to make good on its investment in new players last summer using cash it generated from the sale of future television revenues and other assets.

Barcelona will now have to regroup for Thursday’s visit to Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.

Almeria moved out of the relegation zone after earning one of its biggest wins.

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