Result: FC Barcelona 1-0 Real Valladolid
Date: 16 February 2019
Venue: Camp Nou
Lionel Messi endured mixed evening after scoring a penalty and missing another as FC Barcelona defeated Real Valladoild to move nine points clear of Real Madrid.
With one eye on the UEFA Champions League this week, Ernesto Valverde opted to start Luis Suarez on the bench as Kevin-Prince Boateng was drafted into the line-up.
Without a recognised striker on the pitch, Barca really struggled to mount any serious attempts at goal and were restricted to efforts from distance in the opening 20 minutes.
After a quiet spell in the half, Valladolid squandered a glorious chance after 42 minutes when Nacho failed to convert from close range.
A minute later, Barca were awarded a penalty when Gerard Pique was brought down Michel. Messi stepped up and slotted into the bottom corner to hand his side the lead.
The hosts should have doubled their advantage on eight minutes after the restart, but Messi was unable to find the target from close range after being teed up by Ousmane Dembele.
The chances continued to fall the home side as Suarez, who replaced Boateng, was denied by a superb save from former Barca goalkeeper Jordi Masip on 66 minutes.
With 14 minutes remaining, Valverde threw on Ivan Rakitic for Carles Alena as the Catalan giants looked to shore up the result.
However, Barca were awarded their second penalty of the game in the 84th minute. Messi stepped up once again, but this time Masip pulled off the save to deny the Argentine his brace.
The hosts squandered a couple more chances in the latter stages of the half, but they weren't made to pay as Valladolid failed to threaten at the other end.
As a result, Barca now move seven points clear of Atletico Madrid and nine clear of Real, who are only in action on Sunday.