x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

‘It is all in our hands’ says Cesc Fabregas after Barcelona keep hot on Madrid’s heels

Barcelona beat Almeria 4-1 on Sunday, leaving them just a point shy of Real Madrid in the La Liga title race. 'We have 19 games left to make this a great season,' said Cesc Fabregas.

Barcelona trail Real Madrid by a single point in the Primera Liga title race. Toni Albir / EPA
Barcelona trail Real Madrid by a single point in the Primera Liga title race. Toni Albir / EPA

At the Camp Nou, Barcelona maintained the pressure on both Madrid sides as they made amends for their 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad last weekend.

It took the hosts just eight minutes to make the breakthrough when Alexis Sanchez tapped home after Esteban failed to hold Cesc Fabregas’s shot.

Lionel Messi made it 2-0 with a fantastic free-kick from 25 yards to register his eighth goal in his last six games.

However, Almeria were handed a lifeline three minutes later as Angel Trujillo took advantage of some awful marking from the Barca defence to head home Corona’s corner.

The visitors could even have been level after the break when Aleix Vidal fired straight at Victor Valdes when well-placed inside the area.

Barca did finally put the game to bed when Carles Puyol bundled home after Messi’s looping header came back off the bar before Xavi curled home the fourth two minutes from time.

“The goal they scored put a little doubt in our minds and we were more worried making sure we defended well and kept the ball,” midfielder Cesc Fabregas told Barca TV.

“We had control of the game and once the third goal arrived and we could relax.

“I still think we have to improve, but it is all in our hands. We have 19 games left to make this is a great season.”

The result followed on Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid’s 2-2 draw, leaving Barca one point behind Real and two ahead of Atletico.

In Sunday’s other results, Sevilla moved within five points of Real Sociedad for sixth by beating Sociedad at home 1-0. Kevin Gameiro’s 77th-minute strike provided the edge. Villarreal and Real Betis drew 1-1 as well. Bruno’s 71st-minute penalty put hosts Villarreal ahead, but Nigerian striker Ikechukwu Uche was shown a red in the 80th minute and Betis capitalised with a Ruben Castro netter in the 85th to snatch the draw.

Valencia also suffered a stinging 1-0 defeat to second-from-bottom Rayo Vallecano.

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE