Barcelona beats Villarreal 4-1 to keep slim title hopes alive

Barcelona kept alive their slim La Liga title hopes with an excellent 4-1 victory at in-form Villarreal with Lionel Messi at the heart of the perfomance.

They took an early lead when Pau Torres turned in Jordi Alba’s cross but Gerard Moreno levelled for Villarreal.

Messi brilliantly won the ball in midfield before feeding Luis Suarez – who curled in from 20 yards – and the Barca captain then backheeled to Antoine Griezmann, who scored a magnificent chip.

Ansu Fati blasted in a late fourth.

Barca’s front three of Messi, Suarez and Griezmann clicked perfectly in one of their best performances in recent months.

Messi has now reached 19 La Liga assists this season, the most of any player since he reached that figure in 2010-11.

He was unlucky not to score as he had a goal ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside and hit the crossbar with a late free-kick.

Barca are four points behind Real Madrid with four games to go and need their old rivals to slip up at least twice to have a hope of retaining their title.

Villarreal had won five games and drawn the other since La Liga restarted

Earlier Sergio Ramos scored the only goal for a second consecutive game as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao to move closer to the La Liga title.

Ramos slammed home a penalty – just as he did on Thursday against Getafe – after Dani Garcia fouled Marcelo in a decision given by VAR.

He has scored five goals in seven matches – all wins – since the restart.

Real Madrid’s win over Athletic Bilbao was a game of few goalscoring chances, with Thibaut Courtois making only one save.

Courtois became the first goalkeeper to keep 17 clean sheets for Real in a single La Liga season since Francisco Buyo in 1994-95.

Zinedine Zidane’s side only need to win three of their remaining four games to secure a second La Liga title since 2012.



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