Barcelona have cemented their place at the top of La Liga for the time being with their third straight win, but it didn't come easily. Espanyol defended well and frustrated the Blaugrana, but Alexis Sanchez eventually found a goal for the home side, who pulled out a 1-0 victory.
Very little happened in the early going, with no clear chances for either side until the final 10 minutes of the first half. Victor Valdes had to make the toughest save of the match in the 36th minute, and while it looked brilliant, he might not have known much about it. Daniel Alves mistimed a tackle and allowed Victor Sanchez to get through on goal, but Valdes made a big kicksave. Eight minutes later, Alves hit the post with Barcelona's best chance, an impressive strike from 25 yards that didn't quite find the back of the net.
Espanyol looked somewhat threatening on the break in the first half, but had very little to offer in the second 45 minutes as Barcelona took control. Neymar was Barca's biggest threat and eventually set up the winning goal. He almost scored with a brilliant curled shot that went just wide in the 62nd minute and assisted Sanchez's goal six minutes later.
With two men in front of him on the left flank, Neymar hit an audacious square ball that nutmegged two Espanyol defenders. It was guided perfectly to the back post, where Sanchez was waiting to finish.
Barcelona fans might be a bit concerned about their team's performance heading into a Champions League match against AC Milan, but three points were all that mattered on the night.
Barcelona: Valdes, Montoya, Pique, Mascherano, Alves, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Neymar, Messi, Alexis
Goals: Alexis (68')
Espanyol: Casilla, Rodriguez, Sidnei, Moreno, Fuentes, Sanchez, Thivey, Lopez, Gonzalez, Torje, Garcia