AP, Wednesday 24 May 2023
Barcelona has lost 3-1 at Valladolid for its second consecutive defeat since clinching the title with games to spare
Barcelona s Brazilian forward Raphinha reacts during the Spanish league football match between Real Valladolid FC and FC Barcelona at the Jose Zorilla stadium in Valladolid on May 23, 2023. AFP
Barcelona forward Raphinha took off his jersey and revealed his message of support for fellow Brazilian Vinicius Junior.
The message, which included anti-racism words in Portuguese and the phrase “we are together, Vini,” was on his undershirt and visible when Raphinha was substituted off in the second half of Barcelona’s 3-1 loss to Valladolid on Tuesday. He raised his right fist while leaving the field.
It was the first matchday in the Spanish league since the outpouring of support for Vinicius Junior following the latest case of racial abuse against the Real Madrid star forward on the weekend.
Vinicius, who is Black, has been subjected to repeated racist taunts since he arrived in Spain five years ago. Since the Spanish league season began in September, he has experienced racist abuse by fans of at least five rival teams, including Valencia on Sunday.
Barcelona’s second consecutive defeat since clinching the title with games to spare was overshadowed by the fallout from that.
Players from Barcelona and Valladolid held a banner before the match with the words “racists out of football,” which is one of the slogans of a campaign against racism launched jointly by the Spanish league, Spanish federation and the government’s top sports authority.
Anti-racism slogans were also shown during the national and international broadcast of the game.
The win moved Valladolid three points clear of the relegation zone. The club owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo can stay safe going into the last two rounds if Getafe fails to win at Real Betis on Wednesday.
Barcelona was coming off a 2-1 loss to Real Sociedad at home after securing its first Spanish league title since 2019 in the previous round.
Valladolid, which had lost five straight matches, took a 3-0 lead with an own-goal by Barcelona defender Andreas Christensen and with goals from Cyle Larin and Gonzalo Plata. Robert Lewandowski, the league’s leading scorer, netted late for Barcelona.
“Beating Barcelona gives us a lot of confidence going forward,” Plata said. “Now we have two finals left and hopefully we can reach our goal of staying in the first division.”
SOCIEDAD CLOSER TO CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Real Sociedad strengthened its hold on the final Champions League spot with a 1-0 home win over 10-man Almeria.
Takefusa Kubo scored the winner in first-half stoppage time to give Sociedad its second straight victory — and fourth in five matches.
The win allowed Sociedad to open an eight-point gap to fifth-place Villarreal, which hosts relegation-threatened Cadiz on Wednesday. Sociedad will clinch the Champions League place if Villarreal fails to beat Cadiz.
Almeria, sitting four points from the relegation zone, has lost three of its last five games. It had forward Luis Suárez sent off with a straight red card in the 36th.
CELTA VIGO HELD
Celta Vigo opened a five-point gap to the bottom three after a 1-1 draw with Girona.
Celta got on the board first with a goal by Carles Pérez in the 42nd. The visitors equalized with a penalty kick converted by Cristhian Stuani in the 59th. Stuani scored on his second attempt after the first was saved by the goalkeeper. The penalty was ordered to be retaken because a Celta player entered the area before the kick.
Celta has won only one of its last 10 matches. Eighth-place Girona is winless in three games.
This article was originally published by The Associated Press (AP).