Barcelona edges Sevilla to move into 2nd in Spanish league with a game in hand

Barcelona's Pedri, center right, controls the ball before scoring the opening goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, April 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

Barcelona’s revamped team under coach Xavi Hernández kept its momentum and moved into second place in the Spanish league for the first time this season after defeating Sevilla 1-0 at home on Sunday.

Pedri González broke the deadlock by scoring a beautiful goal in the 72nd minute at Camp Nou Stadium to move the Catalan club past Sevilla.

The victory kept Barcelona’s slim title hopes alive as it remained 12 points behind leader Real Madrid with a game in hand. Madrid salvaged a 2-1 win at Celta Vigo on Saturday with a couple of goals by the league scoring leader Karim Benzema.

Barcelona has the same 57 points as Sevilla and defending champion Atlético Madrid, which won at Alavés 4-1 on Saturday. Sevilla dropped from second to fourth because of the head-to-head tiebreakers.

Barcelona hadn’t been as high as second after a tough start to its first season without Lionel Messi. It reached the top three only a few rounds ago.

Barcelona has won eight and drawn one of its last nine matches in all competitions. It hasn’t lost in 13 consecutive games.

Sevilla had been second since the 16th round but gradually lost ground. It had drawn its last three in a row.

Barcelona was mostly in control but struggled to create significant scoring chances. Veteran defender Gerard Piqué almost opened the scoring with a header that struck the crossbar in the 69th. Pedri finally got the winner by faking his shot twice outside the area before firing in a low strike.

The match came a few hours after the club ratified an agreement with Spotify for at least 12 seasons. The agreement, initially announced in March, was approved by 89% of votes in Sunday’s general assembly.

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