Frenkie de Jong played a prominent role as Barcelona beat LaLiga strugglers Elche 2-0 to stay in touch with the leading pack.
Lionel Messi completed his two-match suspension for a red card during the Supercopa de Espana defeat to Athletic Bilbao and Barca struggled to create clear chances in his absence against well-organised opponents.
But an error from Diego Gonzalez allowed De Jong to take advantage in the 39th-minute – the Netherlands international unlikely to score an easier one than his fifth LaLiga goal.
A minute from time, De Jong then turned provider as he crossed for Riqui Puig to head home, ensuring Barca are three points behind Real Madrid, although they will be 10 points shy of Atletico Madrid again if the leaders are able to beat Valencia later on Sunday.
5 – @DeJongFrenkie21 has scored more goals for @FCBarcelona in one season & a half in #LaLiga (five goals) than in his five campaign for @AFCAjax in Eredivisie (four). Brewing#ElcheBarcelona #ElcheBarça pic.twitter.com/OG4H5WFCUH
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 24, 2021