MX23RW : Tuesday, February 19 09:42:16
Dec 2, 2018 at 5.30pm UK at ​Camp Nou (Barcelona)
Attendance: 73,003
Barcelona
2-0
Villarreal
Pique (36'), Alena (87')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Result: Barcelona back on top of La Liga

Barcelona regain first position in La Liga courtesy of a 2-0 win over Villarreal at Camp Nou.

Barcelona regained first position in La Liga courtesy of a 2-0 win over Villarreal at Camp Nou on Sunday night.

Gerard Pique opened the scoring in the 36th minute, with the centre-back heading a cross from the impressive Ousmane Dembele into the back of the Villarreal net.

Carles Alena then doubled Barcelona's advantage in the 87th minute as the Spanish champions moved ahead of Sevilla to the top of the table.

Barcelona attacker Ousmane Dembele in action against Villarreal on December 2, 2018© Reuters

The pace of Samuel Chukwueze was a key feature of Villarreal's work inside the first five minutes, with the 19-year-old having the chance to turn on the speed on more than one occasion.

Barcelona's first attempt of the match arrived in the ninth minute when Lionel Messi looked to pick out the bottom corner from outside the box, but Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo made a smart save.

Villarreal almost took the lead in the 14th minute when the ball broke kindly for Gerard Moreno inside the home side's box, but the striker smashed the post.

Ivan Rakitic then just missed the goal with an effort down the other end during an open period of the match.

Asenjo kept out a Messi free kick in the 28th minute as opportunities continued to arrive, with Dembele also having a goal-bound strike blocked 15 minutes before the end of the first period.

Barcelona did make the breakthrough in the 36th minute, however, when Pique headed a pin-point Dembele cross into the back of the net from close range.

Messi came close to doubling the home side's advantage in the 38th minute, but Asenjo, who might feel that he should have done better with Pique's header, was on hand to deny the Argentine with a very smart save.

Asenjo made another excellent save to keep out a curling Messi effort early in the second period, before the Villarreal goalkeeper kept out a Rakitic effort from a Dembele cross.

The score was still 1-0 Barcelona entering the final 25 minutes of action, with Villarreal staying in the match without really threatening to level the scores.

Carlos Bacca was introduced for the visitors in the 67th minute, and they did improve in the immediate aftermath, with Santi Cazorla just sending a free kick over the crossbar 20 minutes from time.

Philippe Coutinho just missed the Villarreal goal with a curling effort in the 77th minute, but it was a quiet night for the Brazilian, who was replaced by Malcom for the final 10 minutes.

Malcom headed just over the crossbar in the 83rd minute as Barcelona threatened a second, and it finally arrived in the 87th minute when 20-year-old midfielder Alena ran onto a pass from Messi before lifting an excellent finish over Asenjo.

BARCELONA (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Vidal (Alena 71'), Busquets; Dembele, Messi, Coutinho (Malcom 80')

VILLARREAL (4-4-2): Asensjo; Gaspar, Alvaro, Ruiz, Pedraza; Cazorla (Raba 88'), Caseres, Trigueros (Bacca 67'), Fornals; Moreno (Ekambi 79'), Chukwueze

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Barcelona players celebrate scoring against PSV Eindhoven on November 28, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
5Arsenal26155653371650
6Chelsea26155645291650
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
8Watford2610793434037
9Everton2796123639-333
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
11Bournemouth26103133747-1033
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
15Burnley2676132947-1827
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2645172558-3317
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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