Luis Suarez ended his goalscoring drought in style to help Barcelona increase their lead at the top of La Liga to seven points. Suarez bagged a brace as Barca beat Leganes 3-0 at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque on Saturday.
Substitute Paulinho added the third in the penultimate minute after Suarez had given the visitors a two-goal lead.
The Blaugrana have now stretched their advantage over Valencia, although Los Che have played a game fewer. Meanwhile, Leganes are ninth after this setback.
It took the league leaders the best part of 28 minutes to eventually breach the hosts' defence. Barca's breakthrough came when the lively Alcacer lashed a shot across the face of goal, which Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar could only claw clear.
Suarez was the grateful recipient, as he pounced to finally get himself back among the goals. As Sky Sports Statto noted, it had been some time since Suarez had found the net at club level:
Barca had nipped in front, but they didn't dominate after the goal. Instead, it was controlled stuff from manager Ernesto Valverde's team, with his players keeping their shape well off the ball, but playing slightly within themselves in possession.
Cagey stuff from the visitors allowed Leganes to grow in confidence. They couldn't get back on terms before the break, but as Sid Lowe of the Guardian pointed out, the home side were putting up a strong fight:
Yet Leganes were made to rue their lack of cutting edge when Suarez put the game out of reach on the hour mark. The instinctive No. 9 again pounced on a rebound from another Alcacer shot after Messi had deftly played the latter in behind the Leganes defence.
Suarez had made the decisive contributions, but Yahoo Sport UK's Andrew Gaffney correctly lauded the significance of Alcacer:
Barca should have had a third on 74 minutes, but substitute Aleix Vidal ballooned a shot over from inside the box despite not being under any pressure. Messi's shot then presented Suarez with a chance for his hat-trick, but Cuellar stood tall.
It was left to Vidal's fellow sub Paulinho to wrap up the scoring. The Brazilian midfielder raced to meet Messi's improvised flick before finishing in style.
There were other chances for the leaders, but the final ball too often let Suarez, Messi and Co. down.
Ultimately, Barcelona again did what they had to do to win, a familiar pattern this season. While they are not as free-flowing as in previous seasons, there's a creditable relentlessness and business-like efficiency about Valverde's men, traits sure to make them tough to catch in the title race.