Sports Desk, Mar 6 (efe-epa).- Barcelona’s workmanlike 0-2 win Saturday over Osasuna lifted them to within 3 points of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid on the eve of the Colchoneros’ showdown in the capital with third-place Real Madrid.
The other top four club, Sevilla, lost 2-1 to lowly Elche and may soon have to start looking over their shoulder at Real Sociedad.
Ronald Koeman’s squad were stretched by Osasuna, who were trailing by just a goal as the contest entered the final 10 minutes.
The hosts created the first chance of the night, a rising shot from Kike Barja that forced a leaping tip-over from Blaugrana goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the 15th minute.
Minutes later, an effort from Jonathan Calleri nearly ended up in the Barça net after bouncing off the leg of defender Samuel Umtiti.
The match was in the 30th minute when Lionel Messi delivered a great ball to Jordi Alba and the defender hammered home to put Barcelona ahead.
Osasuna reacted and Ter Stegen was called upon again, this time to deny Ruben Garcia.
Messi threatened three minutes into the second half, but Osasuna keeper Sergio Herrera proved equal to the task.
With seven minutes left in regulation, Messi got the ball to late sub Ilaix Moriba, who evaded a defender before letting loose from 20 yards with a strike that went through Herrera’s fingers to make it 0-2.
Barcelona improve to 56 points, 2 less than Atletico, who have two games in hand, and 3 more than Real Madrid.
Sevilla, three days after a wrenching extra-time loss to Barça in their Copa del Rey semifinal, conceded goals to Elche’s Raul Guti and Guido Carrillo in the space of six minutes.
Luuk de Jong got a consolation goal for the visitors in the 90 minute.
Elche climbed to 17th place with 24 points. Sevilla, on 48 points, trail Real Madrid by 5 and are just 6 points ahead of Sociedad.
In Saturday’s other LaLiga action, Valladolid edged Getafe 2-1 to move up to 16th, while 14th-place Cadiz topped Eibar 1-0 as the visiting side dropped to 18th in the table. EFE