Barcelona, 9 July 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Barcelona moved to within a point of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with a 1-0 win over Espanyol at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
Luis Suarez scored the only goal of the game on 56 minutes when Lionel Messi ran on to an Antoine Griezmann back-heel but had his shot blocked.
Suarez buried the rebound and moved to 195 goals for Barcelona; only Cesar Rodriguez and Messi have scored more.
The defeat means Espanyol are relegated.
“We knew this would be difficult because we put so much in to the game that we played on Sunday against Villarreal,” said Suarez.
“They played with five at the back and were very hard to break down but we found more space in the second half.
“Our intention now is to win our final three games and let’s see if the rival slips-up.”
Real Madrid can open up a four point gap once more on Friday when they host Alaves.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen had saved well from Adri Embarba in the first half. David Lopez had also hit the post.
After Suarez goal Messi almost scored with a volley from Sergio Roberto’s cross but Diego Lopez saved.
Both teams went down to ten-men at the restart.
Barcelona substitute Ansu Fati had only been on for five minutes when the video assistant referee persuaded match official Jose Luis Munuera to change his yellow to a red for a studs-up challenge on Fernando Calero.
Espanyol had Pol Lozano sent off for a kick on Gerard Pique five minutes later so parity was restored.
Barcelona were hanging on at the end but did so to close in on the leaders and condemn Espanyol to relegation for the first time in 27 years.
Earlier Villarreal moved back to within three points of the Champions League places with a 3-1 win over Getafe.
Santi Cazorla put the visitors ahead on 66 minutes from the penalty spot after Moi Gomez was brought down.
Hugo Duro levelled for Getafe on 80 minutes but Cazorla restored Villarreal’s lead again from the spot, after another foul on Gomez.
Ruben Pena made it 3-1 three minutes into injury time. Getafe remain sixth with three games left. Villarreal are fifth.
Also on Wednesday Betis beat Osasuna 3-0.