By 90Min
December 02, 2018

Barcelona moved to the top of La Liga after a 2-0 win against Villareal thanks to goals from Carles Aleña and Gerard Pique.

In what was a rather dull contest at times with Barcelona nowhere near their best, they managed to claim all three points thanks to Pique's header and Aleña's late chip.

David Ramos/GettyImages

The hosts were typically dominant in possession in the opening exchanges but it was the visitors who had the game's first clear-cut chance.

Some sloppy defending from Clément Lenglet over a bouncing ball allowed Gerard Moreno an opportunity to shoot, as the Villarreal striker smashed a shot against the post.

LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

Barcelona looked assured with the ball, but failed to find the cutting edge in the final third of the pitch.

Ousmane Dembélé had a bright first half, and the 21-year-old was only denied from close range thanks to some brave blocking by the Villarreal defenders. 

It was Dembélé who provided the inspiration for the opening goal, as his cross from the right-hand side was powerfully headed home by Pique.

David Ramos/GettyImages

Barcelona almost doubled their lead moments later when Lionel Messi's effort was well saved by Sergio Asenjo, who redeemed himself after being at fault for the first goal. 

The hosts looked disjointed in the second half, but managed to secure all three points in the closing minutes when Lionel Messi threaded a delightful through ball to Aleña.

David Aliaga/MB Media/GettyImages

The substitute showed great composure as he exquisitely chipped over Asenjo to ensure that Barcelona ended the 90 minutes atop La Liga. 

Check out our breakdown of the game below.


BARCELONA 


Key Talking Point 

Although Barcelona made hard work of the victory, they ultimately did what was required to ensure they finished the contest at the top of La Liga.

David Ramos/GettyImages

Having conceded 19 goals in Spain's top flight so far this season, Ernesto Valverde will also be pleased that his side managed to keep a clean sheet. 

The Blaugrana, in their bid to win back-to-back La Liga titles, will hope that Sevilla fail to win their match against Alaves later on. 


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7); Alba (7), Lenglet (6), Pique (8), Semedo (7); Vidal (6), Busquets (7), Rakitic (7); Coutinho (7), Messi (7), Dembélé (9*)


Substitutes: Aleña (8), Malcom (7)


STAR MAN


Ousmane Dembélé produced an excellent performance for Barcelona, continuing his good run of form in the last couple of weeks.

Soccrates Images/GettyImages

The young Frenchman provided the assist for Pique's goal with an inch-perfect cross to give his side the lead.

Dembélé brought out his full box of tricks up against Alfonso Pedraza, as he managed to turn the Villarreal winger inside-out four times in the space of six seconds at one point in the first half.

WORST PLAYER 


Although Barcelona were never really troubled defensively, they could have been punished early on as Clément Lenglet failed to clear a bouncing ball. 

Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

If Moreno's shot had ended up on the other side of the post, Lenglet's mistake would have carried far more significance within the overall context of the game. 

Despite being thrust into the first-team fold with Samuel Umtiti's knee injury, Lenglet has looked far from convincing in the heart of defence. 

LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

Looking Ahead


Barcelona's next fixture sees them take on third-tier side Cultural in the Copa del Rey round of 32 on Wednesday night. 

Ernesto Valverde's men return to action in La Liga next Saturday, as they travel to Espanyol for the Catalan derby. 

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)