Barcelona overcame a resilient Espanyol side to claim a 1-0 win in this city derby and take temporary possession of first-place in La Liga.
The game’s only goal came with 13 minutes remaining when Lionel Messi scored from the spot following Javi Lopez’ handball inside the area, and in the 83rd minute the match was finished as a contest when Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was ejected for handling the ball outside the 18-yard box.
Following are player ratings and analysis for all the Barcelona players.
Half-Time analysis for Barcelona
Pinto: Has been excellent in the air so far.
Alves: Set up Neymar with a pair of accurate crosses.
Pique: Has won all of his aerial duels.
Mascherano: Was lucky to not concede a penalty midway through the first half when he fouled Javi Lopez.
Alba: Combined nicely with Xavi to create Neymar’s second chance to score.
Xavi: Has so far touched the ball 58 times and completed 92% of his passes.
Busquets: Booked for a late tackle on Sergio Garcia.
Fabregas: Started brightly but his distribution has been considerably sub-par.
Pedro: Yet to take a single shot.
Messi: Dropping deep to involve himself in the buildup at every opportunity.
Neymar: Took three shots in the opening period and should have scored on two.
Full-Time analysis for Barcelona
Pinto: Made the only save required of him and was dominant on set-pieces.
Alves: Had plenty of touches and played in some decent crosses, but the right-back conceded possession a bit too much as well.
Pique: Mopped up whenever one of his teammates lost the ball.
Mascherano: Could well have conceded a first-half penalty and was generally average in the centre of defense.
Alba: Not a bad afternoon considering Javi Lopez’ frequent runs down his flank.
Xavi: Touched the ball 118 times and completed 95% of his passes.
Busquets: Distribution was a bit off, but he contributed three tackles on the defensive side of the ball.
Fabregas: Was Barcelona’s poorest midfielder and was withdrawn in favour of Sergio Roberto in the 90th minute.
Pedro: Took two shots in the second half but seemed out of sync with Messi.
Messi: Cleverly rolled his spot-kick into back of the net past Casilla.
Neymar: Barcelona’s most active, and at the same time wasteful, attacker on the day.
Iniesta: Completed each and every one of his passes after coming on as a substitute.
Sanchez: Was twice denied by stand-in goalkeeper David Lopez.
Roberto: Touched the ball seven times in a brief cameo.