ALMERIA, Spain: Barcelona wasted a golden opportunity to extend their lead at the top of LaLiga as they were shocked 1-0 at lowly Almeria on Sunday thanks to a first-half strike by El Bilal Toure.
Barca are top of the league standings on 59 points, seven ahead second-placed Real Madrid who were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Atletico Madrid on Saturday. Almeria are 15th on 25 points, two clear of the relegation zone.
Almeria halted Barca’s seven game winning streak in the league and delivered another blow to the Catalans who, after going unbeaten in 18 matches in all competitions, have now lost two straight matches after being knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday.
The hosts were the better side in the first half and scored after 24 minutes when Luis Suarez sent a perfect long pass to Toure who was ghosting behind Barca’s defence. The Malian striker ran towards the area and hit a thunderous strike in off the crossbar.
It was only the eighth goal Barcelona have conceded in La Liga this season, the least of any team in the top five leagues in Europe.
Almeria should have extended their lead but Leo Baptistao’s strike was blocked by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Rodrigo Ely then missed a sitter from close-range, sending wide a header from a corner when he was all alone in the area.
“I’m very angry because I think we made the worst game of the season by far, mainly in the first half,” Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez told Movistar Plus.
“We were not good and wasted a great opportunity in a match we could not afford to lose after what happened to Real Madrid.
“It was a golden opportunity today and it ended with a really bad day for us. No excuses, it was the worst showing of our side in the entire season.”
Xavi made five substitutions after the break, but Barca could not beat a disciplined Almeria defence.
Almeria, who had won only one of their last eight matches, held on to secure the three precious points as they bid to avoid relegation.