Suarez, Messi punish ten-man Villarreal


Gerard Pique nearly opened the scoring in the fourth minute as his powerful header hit the crossbar following a cross from Lionel Messi.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen produced a brilliant save in the 10th minute to deny Roberto Sariano from close range.

Messi could have found the breakthrough in the 20th minute but the Argentine's curling free-kick hit the upright with Sergio Asenjo well beaten.

It was an open contest after half-an-hour with Villarreal bravely attacking Barça at every opportunity especially on the counter-attacks.

Messi had another opportunity in the 38th minute but his neatly clipped strike from inside the box sailed over the crossbar.

The hosts finished the half strongly but it ended all square as both sides could not find the back of the net.

Villarreal were dealt a blow in the 55th minute when Ruben Semedo, who was impressive, had to come off through injury and Samu Castillejo came on in his place.

Ernesto Valverde made his first alteration in the 59th minute, as he took off Denis Suarez for Paco Alcacer.

Villarreal were reduced to 10 man a minute later as Dani Raba was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Sergio Busquets.

Alcacer setup the breakthrough two minutes later after playing a one-two with Luis Suarez, who rounded the goalkeeper inside the box and poked into the back of the net, 0-1.

Messi finally got into the score-sheet in the 83rd minute after getting past a couple of players in the box and firing a low shot that found the back of the net, 2-0.

Barca managed to see out the closing stages with relative ease as they moved five points clear at the top.