Girona’s Venezuelan midfielder Yangel Herrera (C) snatched a late winner to send his team top of the league (Pau BARRENA)
Girona threw down the gauntlet to Spain’s big two who meet in the Clasico on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo on Friday to move top of La Liga.
Yangel Herrera’s late drive from the edge of the box snatched the Catalans a late victory, sending them three points clear of Real Madrid and four above Barcelona.
Rafa Benitez’s Celta Vigo felt hard done by after officials ruled out a late goal of their own before Herrera drilled home to delight fans at Girona’s modest Montilivi stadium.
The first half featured few chances until Celta’s Jonathan Bamba broke through and fired at goal, but Paulo Gazzaniga was equal to it.
Girona dominated the ball but Celta were hard to break down, sturdy under Benitez, although they have just one win in 11 matches.
Artem Dovbyk forced Celta goalkeeper Vicente Guaita into a save with a header from a corner, but Michel’s side did not create any clear chances, until Yan Couto fired over midway through the second period.
In the final 20 minutes the Catalans began to carve out more opportunities, but Cristhian Stuani and Miguel Gutierrez failed to hit the target.
Celta found the net through Luca de la Torre but the goal was disallowed for a foul by Carlos Dotor on Gazzaniga, although it was slight.
The visitors were still upset about it when Girona snatched the lead and the three points with Herrera driving home from just outside the area.
“It was a very hard game. I’m very happy for the win,” said Girona winger Savinho.
“We deserve it, we work very hard.”
Celta Vigo are 17th, two points from safety.