Resilient Barça go eight clear
Barcelona maintained their impressive home record with victory over Getafe, despite finishing the game with nine men following the dismissals of Gerard Pique and Rafael Marquez. Pique was sent off for a cynical lunge on Rafa Lopez after 24 minutes, although Barça were already a goal to the good by then, thanks to Lionel Messi's brilliant early strike.
Pep Guardiola's side never really looked in danger, despite Pique's departure, and their dominance finally paid off as Xavi all but sealed a 17th league win of the season in the 67th minute. Roberto Soldado's stoppage-time penalty pulled a goal back for the visitors and Marquez was sent off for his foul on Kepa Blanco which led to the spot-kick.
With captain Carles Puyol missing through suspension, Gabriel Milito was given a first league start since returning from his long-term knee injury, while Maxwell was asked to cover at right-back following the late injury withdrawal of Dani Alves. Alves was originally set to start, but was unable to take part and the Brazilian's absence meant Thierry Henry, who had been dropped from the squad by Guardiola, was restored on the bench.
Messi was buzzing from the outset and lashed a fierce effort just wide of the target after three minutes before giving Barça the lead moments later. Yaya Toure laid the ball off for Messi on the edge of the box, and the Argentina forward unleashed an unstoppable drive past Jordi Codina to put the hosts in front.
Repeat not in the cards
Getafe were one of the few teams to get any reward at the Nou Camp last season, when they claimed a 1-1 draw here, and Guardiola had spoken of the possibility of a slip-up prior to this game. That seemed unlikely, though, as the leaders continued to attack. Messi was an inspired figure and the Argentinian's enthusiasm was rubbing off on his team-mates.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic should have made it 2-0 after good work from Messi, but Codina made a fine save to deny the Sweden striker after 18 minutes. A second goal appeared imminent, but instead Barça went down to ten men as Pique was dismissed for scything down Rafa. Getafe then went close to rubbing further salt into the Catalans' wounds as Dani Parejo almost got on the end of Pedro Rios' cross.
Miku was then twice denied by Victor Valdes as Getafe sought to make the most of their extra man, but Barça, with Toure now helping out in defence, looked comfortable and Xavi should have doubled their lead shortly before the break. The Spain midfielder's header was weak, though, and Rafa also cleared an Ibrahimovic effort off the line before the break.
Ibra drought continues
Guardiola rang the changes in the second half, bringing on Sergio Busquets for the hapless Ibrahimovic, who has now gone five league matches without a goal, and Marquez for Toure as Barça looked to shore up their defence. The hosts doubled their lead shortly after the hour mark when Messi set up Xavi and the Barça vice-captain slotted coolly past Codina.
Keita and Messi then missed good chances late on to put the game beyond reach. The Catalans looked to be cruising, but they were forced on to the back foot in added time, when Marquez hacked down Kepa Blanco and the referee awarded a penalty. Roberto Soldado beat Valdes from the spot, but it came too late for Getafe.