Paco Alcacer enjoyed a rare outing for Barcelona by scoring twice in the club's 2-1 La Liga win over Sevilla at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
With second-placed Valencia having strolled to a 3-0 win over Leganes and third-placed Atletico Madrid downing Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 earlier in the day, Barcelona were determined to preserve their four-point lead at the top of the standings.
Although all eyes were on Lionel Messi playing in his 600th game for Barca, it Alcacer who was on target for his side in the pouring rain in the Catalan capital.
Making just his fourth La Liga appearance of the season, the striker netted a goal in each half to ensure leaders Barca stayed unbeaten after 11 games. They lead the standings with 31 points.
“We need to just take advantage of the chances that the boss gives us. I’m very happy to have scored twice, but the most important thing is the result,” Alcacer told BeIN Sport. “We’re going well. The side feels good, we need to carry on as we are doing.”
Luis Suarez twice went close in the opening five minutes, while Ivan Rakitic whistled a volley wide as Barcelona started strongly. They were rewarded as Alcacer pounced on a Sergio Escudero error to run through and slot under the onrushing David Soria after 20 minutes.
Sevilla enjoyed possession but rarely threatened the Barcelona goal before Guido Pizarro drew the visitors level in the 59th minute by nodding home from a corner.
However, the joy was short-lived as Alcacer scored again five minutes later by poking home a Rakitic cross.
Goals from Dani Parejo, Rodrigo and a penalty from Santi Mina earlier helped Valencia cruise to victory at home to Leganes, while Thomas Partey scored a 92nd minute free kick as Atletico Madrid beat Deportivo La Coruna 1-0.
It was a largely unimpressive display from Diego Simeone’s side, who looked set to draw for the seventh time in their last 10 games in all competitions before Partey found the top corner to break Depor hearts.
Third-placed Atletico trail Barca by eight points. Real Madrid, who host Las Palmas on Sunday, are fourth while Sevilla stay fifth on 19 points.
(Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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