Madrid:Andres Iniesta scored one and created the other as Barcelona beat Recreativo Huelva 2-0 to protect its lead in the Spanish league.
Iniesta gave the host the lead in the first minute, after Thierry Henry's centering pass skipped past four Recreativo players - and goalkeeper Asier Riesgo - for the midfielder to slide into the empty goal on Saturday.
Iniesta then created an own-goal in the 68th to secure the victory, moving in from the left and weaving around Alain Nef before his centering pass bounced off Nasief Morris and rolled past Riesgo.
Lionel Messi, who scored twice in a 4-0 Champions League rout of Bayern Munich on Wednesday, failed to give the Catalans a third in the 82nd after sending his penalty straight at Riesgo.
It was Barcelona's sixth straight league win, and second-place Real Madrid needs a victory against Valladolid today to stay within six points of the leader. Madrid, the defending champion, has 66 points to Barcelona's 75 ahead of today's match.
In a late game, Malaga gained ground on fourth-place Villarreal thanks to a 2-0 victory.
Antonio Goldeano found Sergio "Duda" Barbosa with a well-placed long ball into the area in the 38th and the Portugal midfielder evaded one defender before shooting past Diego Lopez, who couldn't keep it out despite getting a hand to the angled shot.
Albert Luque easily picked out Eliseu Pereira with his Villarreal marker trailing for the Portuguese winger to beat Lopez for the second with four minutes remaining.
Striker Guise Rossi had chances for Villarreal in both halves but the Italy striker couldn't rally his club, which will go into Wednesday's Champions League match against Arsenal without a victory in three games.
Villarreal, which drew 1-1 against the Gunners last week, stayed on 48 points, holding the league's final Champions League qualifying place by only two points over Malaga and Valencia. Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna, which meet on Sunday, both have 43 points.
Coach Pep Guardiola rested defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, midfielder Xavi Hernandez and striker Samuel Eto'o ahead of Tuesday's return match at Bayern.
Recreativo had a chance for an equalizer in the seventh minute when a poor clearance allowed Sebastian Nayar to get a free shot away, but goalkeeper Victor Valdes was well-positioned to deny the Argentine midfielder.
Iniesta's early goal saw Barcelona become a bit too passive and Recreativo took advantage, but Andres Lamas missed a header in the 20th, which appeared to be deflected by defender Sylvinho's hand.
Barcelona quickly recovered, and Rafael Marquez headed over before Riesgo saved from Eto'o's replacement Bojan Krkic in the 42nd.
Both sides traded chances to the finish, with Riesgo denying a high drive by Krkic before defender Jose Manuel Casado handled inside the area to set up Messi's spot kick.
It was Barcelona's 24th win in 30 games this season, its best record in half a century.
Recreativo, meanwhile, remained winless at Camp Nou where it has never scored in five matches.