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Primera División

  • March 24, 2012
  • • 1:00 PM
  • • Iberostar Estadi, Palma de Mallorca
  • Referee: Miguel Ángel Ayza Gámez
  • • Attendance: 22284

Mallorca 0-2 Barcelona: Messi and Pique on target as 10-man Catalans keep up pressure on Real Madrid

Mallorca 0-2 Barcelona: Messi and Pique on target as 10-man Catalans keep up pressure on Real Madrid

Lionel Messi - Barcelona

Pep Guardiola's reign notched its 600th goal as the Blaugrana continue their resurgent title charge despite Thiago's sending off early in the second half

Barcelona's 50th competitive match of the season saw it close the gap to just three points at the summit of La Liga following a 2-0 victory over Mallorca at the Iberostar Stadium.

Lionel Messi's tempting free kick evaded everyone in the area before going in off the inside of the post to give Barca the lead midway through the first half.

Pep Guardiola's side passed up the opportunity to double its advantage and, following Thiago's sending off on the hour mark, was left sweating on a comeback from the home side. But it dug deep and Gerard Pique struck 10 minutes from time to make certain a vital three points in its pursuit of Real Madrid atop the Liga table.

After a frantic start, Barcelona began to dominate the islanders and a defensive error allowed Messi a sight of goal. The Argentine did well to escape the attention of Jose Nunes but for Dudu Aoute's save, the home side would have found itself behind early on.

Mallorca responded with its best opportunity of the first half. A flowing move on the touchline saw Alvaro Gimenez combine well with Victor before the latter crossed for his strike partner, but Gimenez's flicked header dropped beyond the far post.

The home side fell behind in unfortunate circumstances after 25 minutes. Messi whipped in a devilish free kick that dropped inside the six yard box before drifting onto the inside of the far post and rustling the back of the net without any subsequent touches, although Alexis Sanchez tried to guide it over the line.

In a dominant spell for the Blaugrana, Mallorca was fortunate to escape falling further behind when Thiago's bullish tackle had seen the ball break to Alexis. The Chilean's deflected shot hit the underside of the bar before Chico headed to safety ahead of the lurking Cesc Fabregas.

Joaquin Caparros' side started the second half on the front foot and the coach responded by introducing Tomer Hemed and Emilio Nsue to the action. And Mallorca's chances increased following Thiago's sending off after the referee spotted a deliberate hand ball. The resulting free kick saw the islanders come close when Hemed rose highest to meet the delivery but Victor Valdes did well to make an important save.

Guardiola reacted to Thiago's red card by bringing on Martin Montoya and Seydou Kieta in an attempt to stem the attacking threat. Despite this, Mallorca was able to assert itself on the game, although it still struggled to create any clear chances.

And with 10 minutes remaining Barcelona secured all three points when Pique reacted quickest. Messi combined with Puyol before the former crashed a low drive against the upright, and there was the former Manchester United man to turn in the rebound.

Chances came late on for both sides but neither was able to convert them into goals as Barca prepared for its Champions League tie against AC Milan with a vital victory in its pursuit of retaining the Liga title.

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