Lionel Messi came off the bench to inspire Barcelona to a 3-1 victory over Leganes on Sunday, as La Liga's leaders restored their five-point cushion at the top of the table in tense fashion.
Ousmane Dembele scored the opener for the Camp Nou hosts, but a Martin Braithwaite equaliser set the Blaugrana back until Messi came on and teed up Luis Suarez for Barca's second before netting one himself.
Earlier on Sunday, Real Betis beat Girona 3-2 to keep seventh spot, as Sergio Canales converted a 94th-minute winner from the penalty spot, sealing their comeback from 2-1 down at half-time.
Real Sociedad pulled off a comeback of their own and scraped one point from their trip to Rayo Vallecano, where Willian Jose netted an 82nd-minute leveller for the guests after they had fallen 2-0 behind.
The video assistant referee didn't go in Athletic Bilbao's favour in their visit to Villarreal, and they settled for a 1-1 draw, while Levante kept up their pace and moved up to 10th following a 2-0 home win over Real Valladolid.
Real Betis 3-2 Girona
Villarreal 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Rayo Vallecano 2-2 Real Sociedad
Levante 2-0 Real Valladolid
Barcelona 3-1 Leganes
La Liga Standings (Points, Goal Difference)
1. Barcelona: 46, +35
2. Atletico Madrid: 41, +17
3. Real Madrid: 36, +6
4. Sevilla: 33, +9
5. Alaves: 32, -1
6. Getafe: 31, +9
7. Real Betis: 29, 0
8. Real Sociedad: 26, +1
9. Valencia: 26, +1
10. Levante: 26, -3
11. Girona: 24, -3
12. Espanyol: 24, -6
13. Athletic Bilbao: 23, -5
14. Leganes: 22, -6
15. Valladolid: 22, -6
16. Eibar: 22, -7
17. Celta Vigo: 21, -2
18. Rayo Vallecano: 20, -12
19. Villarreal: 18, -5
20. Huesca: 11, -22
Visit Sky Sports to view the standings in full.
Barcelona's Sunday outing against 14th-placed Leganes was anything but a stroll, and it required the second-half introduction of Messi to ensure La Liga's leaders weren't held to a surprise draw at home.
Jordi Alba flashed a cross from the left side across the area, and Dembele showed a striker's finish to touch the ball in off the far post with his first touch. Squawka highlighted his ambidexterity after the Frenchman finished so confidently on his right:
Youssef En-Nesyri mimicked Alba's movement down Leganes' right side and crossed in for Braithwaite to score at close range, and for almost 15 minutes, it looked as though the home outfit could fall.
But Messi transformed the match when he entered in the 64th minute. His shot from long range drew a save from goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar, who couldn't stop the onrushing Suarez from poking in to climb Barca's scorer ranks:
Alba's influence down Barcelona's left side has been a running theme this season, and his partnership with Messi was revived before full-time, as he set up the Argentinian with a second assist of the game in injury time.
Betis had lost their last two games as they welcomed Girona to Seville on Sunday but showed fierce determination to get all three points in a back-and-forth match that saw Cristian Tello strike the breakthrough after 12 minutes.
Aleix Garcia and Seydou Doumbia fired back to put Girona ahead at the break. Canales assisted striker Loren Moron for the equaliser and stepped up under pressure to convert a spot-kick four minutes into injury time, extending his recent streak of scoring success, per UEFA:
Athletic were upset not to come away with all three points following their 1-1 draw at Villarreal, where they led for 53 minutes thanks to a calamitous Jaume Costa own goal, via Eleven Sports:
Yellow Submarine forward Karl Toko Ekambi came to the hosts' rescue with an equaliser 19 minutes from full time, but Athletic had an Inaki Williams effort ruled out that arguably should have taken them to three points.
Suarez is the joint-top scorer in La Liga for 2019 but is level with Sociedad striker Jose following his point-saving intervention at Rayo Vallecano:
Santiago Comesana and Adrian Embarba put Vallecano on course for a fourth La Liga win in succession, but goals from Hector Moreno and Jose saw La Real just about edge a point.
Levante were clearer winners against Valladolid and ran out 2-0 victors thanks to goals from Coke and Roger Marti in a match that featured a disappointing 11 yellow cards.