Garcia sealed the game for the visitors when he opened the scoring in the seventh minute, receiving the ball inside the box and sending it past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for a flurry of whistles at Camp Nou .
Barcelona failed to convert a number of golden chances despite coming frighteningly close to an equaliser, with the referee playing 14 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half -weather.
“These mistakes cannot be repeated and they have happened to us again. These are very good opportunities that we have passed up,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez told reporters.
“I leave angry, disappointed, because today was… a repeat of what happened against Eintracht (Frankfurt), as well as in Cadiz. We lacked a lot of efficiency .”
“The fans have been brilliant – ten out of ten” – Xavi https://t.co/zwc47mlX7G
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 1650837992000
Real Madrid need just one point from their last five games to secure the title, while Barcelona are second on 63 points, 15 behind Real and tied with Sevilla in third.
Barcelona had a good chance to equalize in the 25th minute but a strike by defender Jordi Alba from the edge of the box was just off target, hitting outside the right post.
Gavi then hit the ball against the crossbar in the 42nd minute, while Spain international Ferran Torres scored in stride, but his effort was disallowed for offside.
Xavi introduced three strikers from the bench in the second half as Memphis Depay, Adama Traore and Luuk de Jong all came on before the 71st minute.
Traore scared off the Rayo defense in the 76th minute with a superb cross into the box, but it was cleared by Rayo winger Isi.
‘We have to keep going – we have five finals left’ – Xavi after #BarçaRayo https://t.co/SRKV4FcWBy
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 1650836772000
Four minutes later, Depay tried his luck from the edge of the area but his shot, right in the middle of the goal, was blocked by goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
Barcelona continued to press in stoppage time and repeatedly threatened, but Rayo hung on for the three points that took them away from the relegation zone.
“I think we generated plenty of clear chances to at least equalize. If we had equalized with enough time, I think we would have won it. We complicated our own Champions League qualification,” added xavi.
“If we want to hear the music of the Champions League next season, we have to match (the Champions League teams) in their enthusiasm.”
Barca next host relegation-threatened Mallorca on Sunday. Rayo, who dropped from 14th to 11th in the table after the match which was originally due to be played in January, host Real Sociedad earlier today.
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