Barça wins 11th straight game, opens 11-point lead in Spain

Barcelona's Pedri celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Villarreal and Barcelona, at the Ceramica stadium in Villarreal, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

MADRID (AP) — Barcelona keeps on winning at the top of the Spanish league and moving further away from Real Madrid.

Barcelona beat Villarreal 1-0 on the road on Sunday to extend its winning streak to 11 matches in all competitions and its lead over second-place Madrid to 11 points.

Madrid, which won the Club World Cup on Saturday, has played a game less than Barcelona.

“There is nothing decided yet, there is still a lot of league left,” Barcelona coach Xavi said. “But we are happy because we are on a great run, doing things well.”

It was the 16th clean sheet for Barcelona in 21 league matches this season.

Pedri scored in the 18th minute for Barcelona, whose 1-1 draw against Espanyol in the league on Dec. 31 was the last time it failed to win. The 11-game streak has included beating Real Betis on penalties in the Spanish Super Cup and an extra-time victory in the Copa del Rey against Intercity.

It was the third straight loss for eighth-place Villarreal, which has only one win in its last six matches in all competitions. Its previous defeat was at last-place Elche, which had been winless in the league.


Villarreal started the game without injured striker Gerard Moreno, and it lost midfielder Francis Coquelin with a knee injury in the first half. The Frenchman had to be carried off the field on a stretcher.

Barcelona was playing without captain Sergio Busquets and winger Ousmane Dembélé because of injuries. Xavi used midfielder Frenkie de Jong and forward Raphinha in their places.

Defender Marcos Alonso started on the bench a few days after the death of his father, former Barcelona player Marcos Alonso.

Barcelona next hosts Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday.


Memphis Depay scored in the 88th minute for his first goal since joining from Barcelona as 10-man Atletico Madrid won 1-0 at Celta Vigo to stay fourth in the final Champions League spot.

Atletico needed a good performance from goalkeeper Jan Oblak and some help from the woodwork after defender Stefan Savic was sent off in the 70th.

Atletico opened a four-point gap to fifth-place Betis with its third win in four league matches. Celta, which was coming off two straight wins, dropped to 14th.

“It was a tough match, we knew Celta was going through a good moment,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “In the end, Oblak helped us again and Memphis came through in a very important match for us.”

Depay scored from inside the area for his first goal with Atletico since arriving in a transfer from Barcelona in January.

Oblak made two outstanding stops after Savic was sent off, including a reflex save on the goal line in the 85th.

Veteran Celta striker Iago Aspas hit the crossbar from the free kick that came after Savic’s red card for stopping a breakaway.

Midfielder Koke Resurrección made his 402nd appearance with Atletico in the league, surpassing the club mark by former midfielder Adelardo Rodríguez.


Second-to-last Getafe earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano thanks to a 77th-minute equalizer by Enes Unal and Rayo striker Raúl de Tomás failing to score from the penalty spot in the 87th, only four minutes after entering the match.

Getafe, winless in seven consecutive matches in all competitions, played with 10 men from the 54th after Carles Aleñá was sent off with a second yellow card.

Getafe striker Borja Mayoral also failed to score with a penalty kick shortly before Aleña was sent off.

Rayo, which had won three of its last four league matches, dropped to sixth place with the away draw.


Osasuna’s winless streak in the league reached four matches after a 0-0 draw at 13th-place Valladolid, which was coming off two straight victories following five consecutive losses in all competitions.

Osasuna, which stayed ninth, has only one win in its last eight league matches.

On Monday, third-place Real Sociedad visits relegation-threatened Espanyol looking to end a three-game winless streak and move closer to second-place Madrid.