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Barcelona edge closer to title after draw at Celta Vigo

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Ernesto Valverde has steered Barcelona to the verge of the title in his first season in charge. Reuters/Miguel Vidal

Barcelona moved 12 points clear of Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night with a hard fought draw at Celta Vigo. The Spanish league leaders were leading 2-1 when Sergi Roberto was sent off in the 71st minute for a foul on Vigo's Iago Aspas.


Eleven minutes later, Aspas made Barcelona pay when he prodded home to level. In the dying seconds the striker then set up Lucas Boye but he dithered when thorugh on goal allowing the Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to block.

"I think we deserved to win the game," said Celta Vigo coach Juan Carlos Unzue.

Barcelona remain unbeaten in La Liga after 33 games and need seven points from their remaining five games to secure their third title in four years and their 25th overall.

"You always have to accept a point but our intention was to win," Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said. "When we lost Sergi, we had difficulties but it is one more point."

With one eye on Saturday's Copa del Rey final against Sevilla, Valverde made several changes to his usual starting line-up as the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic were all rested.

Ter Stegen, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele were the more established names selected and Dembele took his chance, capping an excellent attacking display with a brilliantly taken goal in the 39th minute.

Coutinho played wide to Paco Alcacer whose return ball was bouncing as Dembele controlled and sent a dipping half-volley into the corner.

On the stroke of half-time, however, Vigo were level. Andre Gomes gave the ball away and Castro bundled in Maximiliano Gomez's cross.

Messi was introduced after an hour at the Stade Balaidos and looked to have inspired another Barca victory when Paulinho gave the visitors a 2-1 lead four minutes later.

But Roberto, who also came on with Messi, blotted his copy book when he pulled back Aspas as the striker was about to sprint clear.

Atletico Madrid can reduce Barcelona's lead to nine points on Thursday night when they take on Real Sociedad.