Barça roll on with Mallorca win
Barcelona kept the pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid as a goal in each half earned the Catalans a seventh straight league win over Mallorca at the Iberostar Stadium.
Alexis Sanchez got the slighest last touch to an inswinging Lionel Messi free-kick for the first, and defender Gerard Pique settled it by firing into an open goal after a Messi shot rebounded off the post.
Barça played the last 33 minutes with ten men after Thiago Alcantara was shown two yellow cards, while for Mallorca, the result brought an end to their four-match unbeaten run.
Messi was presented with an early chance to score league goal number 35 of the campaign, but Israeli goalkeeper Dudu Aouate came out to block the Argentinian's effort. The breakthrough came in the 25th minute when Sanchez was fouled by Ivan Ramis on the right flank, and after Messi's teasing left-footed free-kick evaded the head of Sergio Busquets. Sanchez got the faintest headed touch to the ball at the far post as Aouate flapped at it.
Sanchez almost added a second in the 33rd minute when he was released into the box and fired in a shot which took a slight deflection off Jose Carlos Nunes, hit the underside of the bar and bounced out. Barça's evening was made slightly more tricky as talented midfielder Thiago was shown a second yellow card for a handball, but they eased any nerves they may have had with a second goal 11 minutes from time.
Carles Puyol found himself in an uncustomary advanced position and rolled the ball across the area to Messi, whose low left-footed shot had the beating of Aouate, but bounced back off the goalkeeper's left-hand post, and Pique was on hand to bury the rebound.
Aouate came out to deny Cristian Tello from a tight angle, and Messi then produced a sublime ball to find Martin Montoya in space, but rather than volley towards goal he hacked the ball sideways. Substitute Tomer Hemed headed over a clear chance for the hosts in injury time.