Barcelona wasted a golden opportunity to extend their lead at the top of LaLiga as they suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday thanks to goals in each half from Alvaro Garcia and Fran Garcia.

With seven games to play, Barca are top of the league on 76 points, 11 ahead second-placed Real Madrid, who were also stunned 4-2 at lowly Girona on Tuesday. Rayo Vallecano are ninth on 43 points, four adrift of the European qualification spots.

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“We didn’t play well, we were never comfortable in the game,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said. “The chances we did have, we did not take and then the second goal really penalised us. We tried until the end, but Rayo are worthy winners. The result really annoys us but it’s another game week down.

On the title, race, Xavi added: “The message is simple: there is still a long way to go. Nothing is done yet. LaLiga is not won, I have said it many times. It will take a lot to win it.

“Every game away from home is a battle. Madrid are losing games, Atletico are having to scrap to win, we have lost… but we are annoyed because this was a really good opportunity to extend the gap.”

Rayo halted Barca’s seven game unbeaten streak in the league with a gutsy performance in front of their fans at a sold-out Estadio de Vallecas.

They were the better side for most of the match against a slapdash Barca and opened the scoring in 19th minute after Sergio Camello challenged Gavi and quickly fed Alvaro Garcia who riffled an unstoppable low shot past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Rayo got back on top in the second half and extended their lead in the 52nd minute thanks to a great effort from Fran Garcia, who stole the ball from Frenkie de Jong in midfield and ran through the heart of the Barca defence to score with a tidy finish past Ter Stegen.

Camello missed another great chance in the 64th minute and Unai Lopez also wasted another opportunity to extend Rayo’s lead a little later.

However, Barca cut the deficit through Lewandowski, who latched on to a loose ball inside the box and drilled it into the net in the 83rd minute.

It proved a consolation, however, as Rayo held on to secure the win.

“You have to do a lot of things and have that element of fortune to beat Barca,” Rayo coach Andoni Iraola said. “We made the game uncomfortable for them. We were dangerous in transition. Both goals come from winning the ball back and then attacking quickly.

“Now we can say that we will be here [in LaLiga] again next season with 43 points.”

Information from ESPN’s Sam Marsden contributed to this report.

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Rayo Vallecano vs. Barcelona – Football Match Report – April 26, 2023 – ESPN