3 days after Europa League elimination, Barcelona suffer shock defeat to bottom-dwelling Almería

ALMERIA, Spain - Barcelona wasted a golden opportunity to extend their lead at the top of LaLiga as they were shocked 1-0 at lowly Almería on Sunday thanks to a first-half strike by El Bilal Touré.

Barça are top of the league standings on 59 points, seven ahead second-placed Real Madrid who were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Atlético Madrid on Saturday. Almería are 15th on 25 points, two clear of the relegation zone.

Almería halted Barca's seven game winning streak in the league and delivered another blow to the Catalans who, after going unbeaten in 18 matches in all competitions, have now lost two straight matches after being knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday.

The hosts were the better side in the first half and scored after 24 minutes when Luis Suárez sent a perfect long pass to Touré who was ghosting behind Barça's defense. The Malian striker ran towards the area and hit a thunderous strike in off the crossbar. It was only the eighth goal Barcelona have conceded in LaLiga this season, the least of any team in the top five leagues in Europe.

Almería should have extended their lead but Léo Baptistão's strike was blocked by goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen. Rodrigo Ely then missed a sitter from close-range, sending wide a header from a corner when he was all alone in the area.

"I'm very angry because I think we made the worst game of the season by far, mainly in the first half," Barcelona manager Xavi Hernández told Movistar Plus. "We were not good and wasted a great opportunity in a match we could not afford to lose after what happened to Real Madrid. It was a golden opportunity today and it ended with a really bad day for us. No excuses, it was the worst showing of our side in the entire season."

Xavi made five substitutions after the break, but Barça could not beat a disciplined Almería defense. Almería, who had won only one of their last eight matches, held on to secure the three precious points as they bid to avoid relegation.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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