MADRID – Veteran striker Radamel Falcao added to Barcelona’s struggles by scoring the winner in Rayo Vallecano’s 1-0 victory in the Spanish league on Wednesday.
Barcelona’s second consecutive defeat left it winless in away matches and only ninth in the standings with 15 points from 10 games. The Catalan club had lost to Real Madrid in the “clasico” at home on Sunday.
It was the fifth straight home win for promoted Rayo, which moved to fourth place with 19 points from 11 matches, two points from leaders Real Sociedad and Sevilla with an extra game. It hadn’t beaten Barcelona at home in nearly two decades.
Barcelona missed a second-half penalty kick when forward Memphis Depay had his shot stopped by Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
Barcelona had not gone five consecutive away matches without a win in nearly 20 years.
In the duel between veteran strikers, Falcao got the best of Sergio Aguero, who made his first start with Barcelona after arriving from Manchester City this season.
The 35-year-old Falcao opened the scoring in the 30th minute in a breakaway that started after Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets lost possession near midfield. The Colombia veteran entered the area and got past defender Gerard Pique with a cut-back move before sending his low shot into the far corner for his fourth goal since joining the Madrid club this season.
The 33-year-old Aguero had a few good chances in front of the net but failed to capitalize as Barcelona’s attack struggled as a whole. One of Aguero’s best opportunities was a close-range header that just missed deep into second-half stoppage time.
Depay’s penalty came in the 72nd after he was fouled inside the area.
Barcelona had won back-to-back games in all competitions before losing 2-1 to Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday. It had won its last 13 matches against Rayo in the league.
Sevilla missed its chance to take sole possession of the league lead after a 1-1 draw at Mallorca.
The result left Julen Lopetegui’s team with the same 21 points as Sociedad. It had won four of its last five league matches, including two in a row.
Antonio Sanchez opened the scoring for Mallorca in the first half and Erik Lamela equalized for the visitors after halftime.
Madrid will have its own chance to take the lead later Wednesday when it hosts seventh-place Osasuna, which has won four of its last six league matches.