Alexis Sanchez scored in the second half as Barcelona laboured to a 1-0 win at home to local rivals Espanyol on Friday in La Liga action at the Camp Nou.
The win sent Barcelona, who remain unbeaten in the league, four points clear of Atletico Madrid atop the table. Atletico host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. Espanyol remained in eighth place.
For Barcelona's third match in seven days, manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino made six changes to the side that won 3-0 at Celta Vigo on Tuesday. Marc Bartra, Carles Puyol, Adriano, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and Pedro all came out of the starting XI, making way for Martin Montoya, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Neymar.
Barcelona maintained their 100 percent record at home this season, winning for the sixth time in as many tries. But superstar forward Lionel Messi failed to score for the fourth straight league match, and Barca never approached the heights they hit last season in beating Espanyol 4-0 in this same fixture.
The breakthrough finally came in the 68th minute.
Neymar collected a pass from Sergio Busquets on the right and passed through the legs of two defenders. The ball found Alexis' run at the far post, and the Chilean tapped in for the game's only goal.
It was Alexis' seventh league goal of the season, one fewer than Messi's total.
On target: 5-2