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Within two minutes of the opening whistle at Camp Nou, Barça were fully into their stride and stretching Real Sociedad’s XI right across the pitch. Lionel Messi had the first chance of note with his direct free-kick blocked by the visitors’ wall, as the hosts kept the pressure on throughout the opening quarter hour.
The Argentinian then delivered a sumptuous cross which Luis Suárez just failed to connect with and, after a period of play where both sides cancelled each other out, he grazed the top of the net with another free-kick. With Ousmane Dembélé, Suárez and Arturo Vidal all on the front foot too, it seemed to only be a matter of time before the hosts opened the scoring.
On 35, Juanmi escaped Barça’s defensive clutches and was denied by a superb save from Marc-André ter Stegen. As Barça continued to probe Messi produced a chance from nothing, though Suárez’s low drive was stopped by a strong hand from Gerónimo Rulli.
Seconds before half-time and with virtually the final touch of the half, Clément Lengletrose highest to power home a header from a corner despite the close attentions of two defenders.
Both sides had the bit between their teeth at the start of the second-half as possession consistently changed hands. Rubén Pardo’s deflected shot brought another flying save out of Ter Stegen whilst Dembélé hit one just wide from Vidal’s set-up.
Just after the hour mark Juanmi got on the end of Merino’s through ball to level the scores. Any joy for the visitors was short-lived, however. Jordi Alba cut inside from the left and without hesitation drilled one home with his right foot two minutes later.
In the final 15 minutes, Ivan Rakitic shot narrowly wide after a fine run and assist from Suárez, and Vidal from almost same position put a chance over the bar. Substitute, Philippe Coutinho, also tried his luck as the hosts looked to get a late reward.
La Real kept pushing forward to try and grab a point but Barça’s defence held firm. The win means the blaugrana are now just two more victories away from the League title.
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