Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi kept Barcelona’s La Liga title hopes on track with goals in a 2-0 win over Leganes at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Manager Quique Setien restored 17-year-old Fati to his starting XI for the game as one of five changes for the clash with Los Pepineros.
Clement Lenglet, Junior Firpo, Arthur, and Ivan Rakitic also came into the side with Jordi Alba, Ronald Araujo, Frenkie de Jong, Arturo Vidal, and Martin Braithwaite dropping out.
A fairly dull first half at the Camp Nou was brought to life by Ansu just before the half-time whistle. The 17-year-old took a pass from Junior Firpo inside the penalty area and smashed a great finish past goalkeeper Pichu Cuellar.
Messi Seals Win
Barcelona thought they had equalized in the second half when Antoine Griezmann stroked home a cross from Nelson Semedo only to see his effort ruled out for offside.
The hosts did manage to double their lead after a brilliant run by Messi. The Argentine set off near the halfway line and was eventually sent tumbling inside the penalty area to win a spot-kick.
Messi made no mistake with his penalty. The 32-year-old sent Cuellar the wrong way to notch his 21st La Liga goal of the season and his 699th career goal.
Sevilla Up Next for Barca
Tuesday’s win keeps Barcelona five points clear at the top of La Liga, although Real Madrid can cut the gap with victory over Valencia on Thursday.
Barcelona return to action on Friday with a tricky test against third-placed Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium. Julen Lopetegui’s side are having a strong season and have beaten Real Betis and drawn with Levante since La Liga resumed,
The Catalan giants can head to Sevilla with confidence after following up Saturday’s win over Real Mallorca with another victory over Leganes. Barca will also no need reminding they hammered Sevilla 4-0 at the Camp Nou back in October.
Friday’s game also presents Messi with a chance to notch another landmark. The Argentine needs just one more goal to record his 700th for club and country and is in good form with two from his last two.