Barcelona came through a testing local derby at Espanyol to win 3-0 thanks to two clinical finishes from Luis Suarez and a strike from Ivan Rakitic on Saturday (29/04/17).
According to Reuters, Suarez pounced on a disastrous backpass from Jose Manuel Jurado to break the deadlock in the 50th minute and Rakitic sealed the win in the 76th by side-footing home Messi’s cutback after the Argentine had torn through the home defence.
Suarez took advantage of another error by the otherwise impressive Espanyol backline and rifled in from close range in the 87th minute.
“I think we deserved the win because we gave a serious performance,” said Barca coach Luis Enrique. “We knew that in the second half their high pressing would allow us to create more up front. We wore out the opposition.”
Barca top the standings on 81 points due to their superior head-to-head record over Real, who also have 81 and have a game in hand.
Elsewhere, Marcelo came to Real Madrid’s rescue four minutes after his side had conceded a potentially crucial Valencia equaliser, from Dani Parejo, that could have seriously dented their hopes of landing a first title since 2012.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal in five league games to put Real ahead in the 27th minute but in the second half had a penalty saved by Diego Alves, who turned away a league-record sixth spot kick of the campaign.
Valencia had given Real a scare when Santi Mina hit the woodwork in the opening minute and the visitors pulled level in the 82nd minute with a thumping free kick from Parejo, the former Real academy player, who had fouled Luka Modric for the penalty.
Marcelo promptly grabbed the winner, cutting inside from the left-hand side of the area and curling the ball under Alves with his right foot, as Real’s title bid benefited from yet another crucial late goal.