Real Valladolid inflicted a shock 1-0 defeat on Barcelona to severely hinder the reigning champions’ hopes of winning La Liga once more.
Fausto Rossi’s opportunistic finish after 17 minutes was enough to condemn Barcelona to their fourth league defeat of the season, with Gerard Martino’s side guilty of an inexplicably insipid performance.
Lionel Messi had two excellent chances while Neymar fired lamentably over with the goal at his mercy, but otherwise Barcelona were a shadow of the team we have come to expect.
The result means Real Madrid can extend their lead at the top of the table to four points with a home win over Levante on Monday, while Atletico Madrid can move into second when they play Celta Vigo later on Saturday.
Barcelona have earned a reputation for being slow starters on their travels in 2014 and conceded first for the fifth time in their last six away games in La Liga when Rossi struck after 17 minutes.
The former Italy youth international, on loan from Juventus, profited from some lacklustre Barcelona defending when the visiting side failed to clear and the ball bounced off Javier Mascherano and into the path of Rossi, who finished competently past Victor Valdes with a first-time side-foot.
It was nothing less than Barcelona deserved in a largely miserable first half hour which was only briefly illuminated when Messi set off on what promised to be one of his classic runs, past a series of players, only for his firm effort to be tipped over by Diego Marino Villar.
Valladolid carved out the occasional chance with former Manchester United striker Manucho an intermittent threat, but Barca began to assume more control as the first half wore on with Messi hitting the target on two occasions and Cesc Fabregas having a long-range drive saved.
Barcelona emerged with greater intent in the second half, with Adriano firing a low shot narrowly wide of the post and Messi having a low effort at the near post blocked by the legs of Valladolid keeper Villar.
However, their best chance fell to Brazilian forward Neymar after 58 minutes following a glorious turn and touch from Fabregas, but the striker, who scored a hat-trick for Brazil against South Africa in midweek, got his foot under the ball and unforgivably cleared the bar from 12 yards.
As Barcelona’s awfulness showed no sign of abating, Tata Martino introduced Sergi Roberto for Gerard Pique, who was on a yellow card, meaning Sergio Busquets joined Javier Mascherano at centre-back. The ineffectual Neymar was also swiftly removed to be replaced by Cristian Tello.
But nothing could change the fact that Barcelona were having a spectacularly bad off day, and their misery was complete when the referee blew up after five added minutes, with the win taking Valladolid out of the bottom three.
David Villa scored a double to take Atletico Madrid top of La Liga with a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo.
Bottom side Real Betis improved their slim chances of avoiding relegation when they won 2-0 at home to fellow strugglers Getafe.
Betis have 18 points in 20th, five behind 19th-placed Rayo Vallecano, who play at Real Sociedad on Monday.
Valladolid climbed out of the drop zone into 17th, above Almeria ahead of their game at home to Andalusian rivals Sevilla on Sunday.
Valladolid 1 - 0 Barcelona
Real Betis 2 - 0 Getafe
Celta Vigo 0 - 2 Atletico Madrid
- Sports & Recreation
- Real Valladolid
- La Liga
- Lionel Messi
- Atletico Madrid
- Celta Vigo
- Real Madrid