A rare Sergio Busquets goal helped Barcelona get back to winning ways at the Camp Nou as they overcame a relegation-threatened Real Mallorca 2-1.
The Catalans were on a run of three consecutive home defeats, but they proved too strong for Javier Aguirre's men as they leapfrogged Sevilla back into second.
Restored to the side, Memphis Depay opened the scoring with a clever finish from 18 yards with Jordi Alba registering a fine assist.
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Ronald Araujo had the ball in the back of the net just minutes earlier but was marginally offside when he converted a smart header, as Barcelona were markedly improved, although they did survive a scare with Fer Nino failing to hit the target with the goal gaping.
Busquets finally put daylight between the sides nine minutes after the restart with a clean strike from the edge of the box.
They had further opportunities to add to their lead, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shooting wide from five yards out, while Ferran Torres had a goal chalked off by VAR.
A goal out of nowhere from the visitors, Antonio Raillo steering home from Salva Sevilla's whipped free-kick delivery, set up a nervous finale.
But Barcelona held on relatively comfortably for a much-needed win, and a productive night for the hosts was complete when Ansu Fati came off the bench to make his first appearance for the club since early November.
The victory sees Barcelona comfortably amongst the top-four, while Mallorca remain in a precarious 16th, just a point above the drop zone.

TALKING POINT - Barca back to winning ways

Barcelona's form had fallen off a cliff, losing three consecutive home games for the first time since the 1998/99 season, and they desperately needed to get back to winning ways.
OK, this was far from vintage-Barca - and the goal they conceded will raise yet more questions about their fragile defence - but it was much improved from what we have witnessed at Camp Nou in recent weeks. And it should be enough to seal their place in next season's Champions League.
They're now nine points above Real Betis with just four games remaining (although Betis have a game in hand). It would take a catastrophe for them to drop out of the top four from here. If Xavi's main objective was simply to secure Champions League football next season then it's almost job done.
AS IT HAPPENED

MAN OF THE MATCH - Jordi Alba (Barcelona)

Jordi Alba attempted 132 passes and made 157 touches in the match, the most by a player in a La Liga game this season. Also created the opening goal with a fine pass over the top.

PLAYER RATINGS

Barcelona: Ter Stegen 6, Alves 7, Pique 5, Araujo 7, Alba 7, F de Jong 7, Busquets 8*, Gavi 7, Torres 6, Aubameyang 6, Depay 7.. subs: Lenglet N/A, Dembele N/A, Fati N/A.
Mallorca: Rico 6, Russo 5, Valjent 5, Raillo 6, Maffeo 5, Sanchez 5, Battaglia 5, Olivan 6, D Rodriguez 5, A Rodriguez 5, Nino 5.. subs: Sevilla 6, Kubo 6, Grenier 5, Kang-In 5, Hoppe N/A.

KEY MOMENTS

6' - FINE SAVE! Gavi's whipped cross is inch-perfect for Aubameyang and his stooped header is goalbound until Rico pulls off a fantastic save!
19' - GREAT CHANCE FOR MALLORCA! Barcelona survive a huge scare at the back. Olivan hammers a first-time ball across the face of goal, Nino is sliding in but fails to find the target with the goal gaping!
25' - GOAL! BARCELONA 1-0 REAL MALLORCA (MEMPHIS DEPAY): This has been coming! Alba spots the run of Depay and lifts a beautiful ball over the top, the Dutchman takes an excellent first touch before drilling it into the bottom corner. A smart, smart goal.
73' - GOAL RULED OUT BY VAR! Busquets' cross picks out Depay at the back post, he cushions it to Torres who hits the crossbar. He eventually manages to bundle it over the line, but Barcelona's celebrations are cut short as VAR adjudges Depay was offside in the build-up.
79' - GOAL! BARCELONA 2-1 REAL MALLORCA (ANTONIO RAILLO): A goal out of nowhere and suddenly it's game on! Raillo sticks out a boot and diverts Sevilla's sensational free-kick delivery into the back of the net! A nervy finale at Camp Nou?

KEY STATS

  • Jordi Alba has provided nine assists in La Liga this season, the most by a defender in a league campaign since Marcelo Vieira with Real Madrid in 2016/17 (10) and the most by a Barcelona defender since Dani Alves in 2011/12 (11).
  • Sergio Busquets has scored two goals in his last five games for Barcelona in all competitions, as many goals as in his previous 122 appearances for the club.
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