Seville, Spain, Feb 27 (efe-epa).- Barcelona had a surprisingly easy time of it here Saturday against Sevilla, winning 0-2 to go to second place in LaLiga.
The Blaugrana improve to 53 points, 2 behind leaders Atletico Madrid, though the Colchoneros have two games in hand. Real Madrid, now third with 52 points, can vault ahead of Barça with a victory Monday against Real Sociedad.
Sevilla remain in fourth with 48 points.
Barcelona needed to take all 3 points to keep pace with their title rivals and coach Ronald Koeman likely also wanted to set a tone ahead of Wednesday’s encounter with Sevilla in the second leg of a Copa del Rey semifinal tie in which the Catalan club trail 2-0.
Both teams started brightly, but Barça’s superiority in a game centered on possession emerged as the minutes passed.
Sevilla goalkeeper Bono dealt comfortably with a shot by Ousmane Dembele and thwarted Lionel Messi’s attempt to catch him out on a free kick.
Just before the half-hour mark, however, Messi sent a perfect pass to Dembele and the Frenchmen eluded two defenders before beating Bono to make it 0-1.
Unhappy with his team’s performance in the opening period, Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui made a triple-change to start the second half.
Yet Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to make only one save – against Jesus Navas in the 51st minute – and Youssef En-Nesyri’s apparent equalizer with 10 minutes left was disallowed for hand ball.
In the 85th minute, Messi combined with 18-year-old Ilaix Moriba to get the ball deep and the Argentine prevailed over Bono for the 0-2. EFE