Ten-man Barcelona closed to within three points of La Liga leaders Real Madrid when Lionel Messi struck his 35th goal of the campaign in a 2-0 win at Real Mallorca on Saturday.
The Argentine World Player of the Year, who has now scored 18 goals in his last nine games for his club, fired Barca ahead in the 25th minute at the Iberostar Estadio.
The Mallorca defenders failed to deal with his inswinging free kick from the right and it flew past goalkeeper Dudu Aouate into the corner of the net.
Barca were on cruise control until 12 minutes into the second half when midfielder Thiago Alcantara was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball and the referee showed him a second yellow card.
The champions endured a nervy 20 minutes before a Messi shot cannoned back off Aouate’s left-hand post and center back Gerard Pique was on had to slot the rebound into the empty net.
Real are looking to get back to winning ways when they host Real Sociedad later on Saturday after Jose Mourinho’s side drew their last two matches.
They will be without defender Pepe and playmaker Mesut Ozil, who are suspended, while Mourinho is banned from the bench after he was sent off in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Villarreal.
Barca, chasing a fourth straight La Liga title, have 69 points from 29 matches, with Real on 72 from 28.