Barcelona's Jordi Alba (C) celebrates after scoring against Osasuna during their LaLiga match at Camp Nou in Barcelona on 2 May 2023.EFE/Alejandro Garcia

Barcelona close in on LaLiga crown

Sports Desk, May 2 (EFE).- Jordi Alba’s goal in the 85th minute was all Barcelona needed to get past 10-man Osasuna 1-0 Tuesday and go 14 points clear of defending champions Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga with five matches left in the season.

FC Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski (C) vies for the ball with Osasuna's Unai Garcia (R) and Juan Cruz during a LaLiga match at Spotify Camp Nou in Barcelona on 2 May 2023. EFE/Alejandro Garcia

The Blancos had a chance to narrow the gap a few hours later in San Sebastian, but they fell 2-0 to Real Sociedad, who tightened their grip on fourth place.

Hosting 9th-place Osasuna at Camp Nou, Barcelona dominated from the start and would end the contest with 77 percent possession, outshooting the visitors 21-7.

FC Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong (R) battles Osasuna's Aimar Oroz during a LaLiga match at Spotify Camp Nou in Barcelona on 2 May 2023. EFE/Enric Fontcuberta

But the Pamplona side were tenacious on defense, even after they were reduced to 10 men in the 26th minute, when the referee showed Jorge Herrando Oroz the red card after the defender was deemed to have denied a scoring opportunity with a foul on Pedri.

With one eye on Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid, Osasuna coach Jagoba Arrasate made nine changes to the starting 11 from the team’s last LaLiga game, while Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez stuck with the lineup that routed Real Betis 4-0 last weekend.

Referee Pulido Santana (R) shows the red card to Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal (L) during a LaLiga match against Real Sociedad at Reale Arena in San Sebastián, Spain, on 2 May 2023. EFE/Javi Colmenero

After failing to put a shot on target in the first half, Barcelona forced a quartet of fine saves from visiting goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez in the second period before Robert Lewandowski found the net in the 79th minute, only to see the goal called back for offside.

Alba finally broke the deadlock in the 85th, assisted by Frenkie de Jong.

For the game at Sociedad, Real Madrid were without Vinicius Jr. and Eduardo Camavinga due to suspension, while Carlo Ancelotti decided to rest Karim Benzema ahead of the Copa final and next week’s Champions League semifinal first leg with Manchester City.

Real Sociedad midfielder Take Kubo (L) scores against Real Madrid during a LaLiga match at Reale Arena in San Sebastian, Spain, on 2 May 2023. EFE/Juan Herrero

Sociedad keeper Alex Remiro did well to deny Aurelian Tchouameni in the 6th minute and Eder Militao in the 9th before Aihen Muñoz fired over the Real Madrid cross-bar.

David Silva tested Blancos keeper Thibaut Courtois in the 19th minute and the game remained scoreless at the break.

Everything changed in the second minute of the second half, when former Real Madrid man Take Kubo exploited a poor pass by Militao to put Sociedad up 1-0.

Remiro thwarted Toni Kroos in the 55th to preserve the narrow advantage and the visitors suffered a major blow in the 61st minute with the expulsion of Dani Carvajal.

Already on a yellow card for dissent, the defender got the boot after a reckless challenge on Muñoz. And late sub Ander Barrenetxea got the insurance goal for Sociedad in the 85th minute.

EFE gmh-cr/dr