(source) Barcelona moved another step closer to the Primera Division title after seeing off Recreativo Huelva 2-0 thanks to an inspired display from Andres Iniesta.
Iniesta scored the opening goal inside the first minute and was also heavily involved in Barca`s second midway through the second half, his low cross being turned into his own net by Recre defender Nasief Morris.
Lionel Messi also missed a late penalty for Barca but it made little difference to the outcome as Pep Guardiola`s all-conquering side moved nine points clear of Real Madrid, who play Real Valladolid on Sunday.
The result keeps Recre in deep trouble in the bottom three, but the Andalusian side can be proud of their battling display at the Camp Nou - where Barca had scored 15 goals in their previous three matches against Bayern Munich, Lyon and Malaga.
Barca have made a habit of destroying teams early on in matches this season, and Wednesday`s 4-0 Champions League trouncing of Bayern was the sixth time they had scored four or more goals in the first half of a game.
And it looked set to be a similar story tonight as the treble-chasing Catalan outfit needed just 48 seconds to get their noses in front.
Thierry Henry accelerated past Alain Nef down the right before firing in a low cross that evaded three players before finding its way through to the unmarked Iniesta in the middle, and he had the easy task of slotting home from five yards.
Unlike sides such as Bayern, Atletico Madrid, Real Valladolid and Malaga, Recre refused to buckle following that early setback and they even gave their hosts some headaches after forcing a number of corners.
However, Barca looked capable of stepping up through the gears at any moment, and Bojan Krkic twice went close to extending the home side`s lead.
Messi also looked certain to score three minutes before the break, but his shot was blocked by Morris with the goal gaping.
Bojan seemed determined to make the most of a rare start for Barca and the youngster again came close in the 52nd minute with a fine 20-yard effort that visiting goalkeeper Asier Riesgo was forced to tip over.
Riesgo then produced another fine save to keep out Iniesta`s curling shot in the 60th minute as Barca started to turn up the heat.
Soon after that Henry was left shaking his head in disbelief after seeing a goal ruled out for offside following good work from Iniesta.
Three minutes after that though, the same combination led to Barca getting their second - albeit in less conventional fashion.
Iniesta broke in from the left wing and he tried to pick out Henry in the middle, only for Morris, in a desperate attempt to cut the cross out, to slide in and inadvertently deflect the ball past Riesgo at his near post.
That was a demoralising way to concede for Recre, and they must have felt the gods were against them when, 13 minutes later, Barca were awarded a debatable penalty for handball against Jose Manuel Casado as he was trying to block an Alves cross.
The ball did strike Casado`s arm, but the Recre defender did not appear to know too much about it.
However, if there was any justice to be served, Riesgo did it as he dived to his right to save Messi`s low penalty.
Moments after that incident Recre felt they had got a foothold back into the match when Ersen Martin slotted home a low cross, only for the officials to again break Andalusian hearts as the effort was chalked out for offside.
It looked a marginal decision at best, but Barca survived and they comfortably saw out the closing minutes to further strengthen their position at the summit.
Bojan: "The most important thing is the three points."
"It was spectacular against Bayern but today was a different kettle of fish in which the three points were the important thing."
"We want to keep that gap and hope they slip up."
"They were under no pressure and came here to play and did really well."
"It's all or nothing. We can win a lot of things and lose them all as well. We've got to keep that humility which has got us to where we are today. I'm feeling good and anxious to get into these important games. We started the year hoping to do a lot, although no-one imagined we'd do what we have."
Iniesta: "The three points are really important. We knew it would be tough after the effort of the Champions League. Recre made it hard for us."
"You can't win every game 3-0 playing brilliantly."
"That's one game fewer and we'll still have at least the six-point gap."
"A goal always encourages you to try for more."
Henry: "It was tough at times but the most important thing is the win."
"I feel quick. I've had no injuries this term and I can run more."
"That early goal didn’t make us switch off. It's better to start well."
"We're only thinking about us. We’ve got a lot of games and we can't think about other clubs."