Lionel Messi scored a spot kick to earn Barcelona a hard-worked 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Sunday evening.
Ernesto Valverde’s side have struggled of late, being held by Athletic Bilbao last weekend to see the gap between themselves and chaser Real and Atletico Madrid get smaller.
With all eyes on Lyon in the Champions League next week, Valverde opted to leave Luis Suarez, Clement Lenglet and Philippe Coutimho on the bench and that allowed Kevin-Prince Boateng a start.
The former AC Milan striker had the opening chance for Barca, but his weak effort did not test Jordi Masip in the Valladolid goal.
Barca dominated for the most part but Masip was proving in superb form as he denied Messi, Ousmane Dembele and Gerard Pique.
The opening and only goal of the game would come when Pique advanded into the box and was fouled, leaving Messi to convert his spot kick.
The Argentine forward had another chance from the spot in the second half but Masip was not being beaten for a second time and he saved from 12 yards.
Barca’s win sees them sit seven points clear of Atleti, but they could be chased down slightly by Real Madrid, who meet Girona on Sunday morning at the Santiago Bernabeu.