Goals from Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi pushed a sluggish Barcelona to their second straight victory since returning to action in a 2-0 final versus Leganes on Tuesday night at the Camp Nou.
Ansu Fati struck right before half-time to give the hosts a lead at the break, before a controversial penalty decision allowed Messi to convert from the spot for the second of the night.
As expected, there were rotations in Quique Setien’s starting XI as he made five changes were made, with Ansu Fati, Arthur Melo, Ivan Rakitic, Junior Firpo and Clement Lenglet all enter the starting line-up.
Unlike their quick start on Saturday in Mallorca, Barcelona started slowly against Leganes and it was actually the visitors from Madrid who generated the first chances of the match when Lenglet had to clear a Javier Eraso shot right in front of goal, followed by a Miguel Angel Guererro shot that hit the post.
Setien’s decision to go with Ansu Fati would pay dividends though toward the end of the first half when the youngster gave his side a 1-0 lead. Messi played a ball into Junior Firpo, who fought off a pair of Leganes defenders before finding Ansu Fati and the 17-year-old fired in a well-struck right-footed shot for the opening goal.
Shortly after the break, Setien went to his bench, bringing on Luis Suarez and Nelson Semedo for Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto respectively, followed later by Sergi Busquets yielding his spot to Arturo Vidal.
Barcelona were having difficulty finding a second goal to pad their lead and even had an Antoine Griezmann goal disallowed via VAR after Semedo was adjudged offside on a pass from Messi in the build-up.
Messi decided to take matters into his own hands and the Argentine, after fighting his way past three Leganes players outside the area, collided with compatriot Jonathan Silva in the area, resulting in a penalty. Replays showed that it was a borderline call from referee Juan Martinez Munuera, but nevertheless it stood and Messi converted for a 2-0 Barcelona lead.
Setien then made his final two changes, as Samuel Umtiti and Riqui Puig entered the fray for Gerard Pique and Arthur.
Leganes never stopped battling and almost pulled a goal back through sheer determination and effort just outside the Barcelona area, only to see Guido Carrillo fire just wide.
Substitute Riqui Puig has two gilt-edged scoring chances to tack on a third in the late stages of the contest, but he could not find a way past Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar. However, it was still another clean sheet victory for Barcelona, who are once again five points clear of second-placed Real Madrid, with Los Blancos returning to action on Wednesday.
2.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto (Semedo, min. 54), Pique (Umtiti, min. 73), Lenglet, Junior; Busquets (Vidal, min. 63), Rakitic, Arthur (Riqui Puig, min. 73); Messi, Ansu (Suarez, min. 54), Griezmann.
0.- Leganes: Cuellar; Tarin, Bustinza, Awaziem, Silva (Rodrigues, min. 71); Recio (Bryan Gil, min. 85), Ruben Perez, Roque (Assale, min. 46), Ruibal, Eraso (Amadou, min. 63); Guerrero (Carrillo, min. 71).
Goals: 1-0, min. 42: Ansu Fati; 2-0, min. 69: Messi (p).
Referee: Martinez Munuera (Valencian).
Yellow cards: Bustinza (Min. 37) for Leganes, Ruben Perez (Min. 67) for Leganes, Awaziem (Min. 82) for Leganes, Umtiti (Min. 83) for Barcelona, Riqui Puig (Min. 84) for Barcelona, Lenglet (Min. 84) for Barcelona, Junior Firpo (Min. 89) for Leganes.
Red cards: None.
Stadium: Camp Nou.