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A shock loss for Barca

Madrid: Barcelona’s bid for a fifth La Liga title in six years suffered a surprise setback when they crashed to a 0-1 defeat at lowly Real Valladolid on Saturday and opened the door for Real Madrid to pull away at the top.

It was one of Barca’s worst performances of the season, particularly during a woeful first half when Fausto Rossi scored for the home side, and the champions squandered a chance to move two points clear of Real at the top.

Barca’s players, most of whom were in international action midweek, looked jaded and short on inspiration and Lionel Messi and Neymar wasted a host of opportunities in a lethargic display marked by uncharacteristic sloppiness.

“We failed to create going forward, in our passing and in our mobility and that’s why we did not get the desired result,” coach Gerardo Martino said at a news conference.

“We are finding it hard to put together a complete game in every aspect of play, a perfect game,” added the Argentine, who is in his first term in charge after taking over from the ailing Tito Vilanova. As long as we still have a chance mathematically, we will keep fighting for the league.”

The first genuine chance of the match at Valladolid’s Jose Zorrilla stadium fell to Messi when he sprinted into space on the left in the 10th minute.