Alavés gave it their best but a neat finish from the Barça youngster and a controversially-awarded penalty for the Uruguayan secured all three points.
Alavés vs Barcelona: match report
Barcelona are now just three points away from clinching the LaLiga title after Ernesto Valverde’s side comfortably saw off Alavés 2-0 at the Mendizorrotza Stadium, thanks to second half goals from Carles Aleña and Luis Suarez.
Barcelona dominated possession in the first but failed to really trouble Pacheco’s goal. The best chance in the first period fell to Suarez in the sixth minute, when Coutinho released him with a clever ball into the box. But the Uruguayan could only manage to hit the ball straight at the Alaves keeper, as he did with a similar opportunity in the opposite side of the box around the half-hour mark.
But with all the Barcelona pressure, a goal always felt imminent and it inevitably came in the 54th minute, when Suarez played a clever dummy to allow the ball to roll under his legs towards Aleña just ahead of him inside the box. And the Spaniard took one touch before slotting it into the left corner to give his side the lead.
The visitors had their second goal just seven minutes later, after they won a penalty for VAR-deemed handball by Pina inside the six-yard box. With Messi sitting on the bench, Suarez stepped up to the spot and drove it into the bottom right corner to put the game virtually past an underwhelming Alavés, who continued to struggle as Barcelona went into cruise control.
Messi came on moments after the penalty and typically controlled the rest of the game, hitting the post from a shot from a tight angle in the 69th minute, after he rounded two defenders with ease. Barcelona continued to threaten until the end but a third goal didn’t materialise. Two goals, however, were more than enough to see off Alavés, who had a few chances of their own and gave it their best against a much more powerful Barca outfit.
Ernesto Valverde’s side face Levante at home on Saturday, where a win will hand them the league title with a few games to spare.
Alavés vs Barcelona: as it happened
And the team news is in...
As well as the expected addition of silverware, clinching the league this week will give Valverde the chance to rest some of his stars for the weekend game against Levante, allowing them to be fresh for next Wednesday's visit of Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final first leg.
The key focus of this encounter is whether or not Ernesto Valverde's troops can secure another LaLiga title. A win tonight and Atlético Madrid falling at home to Valencia tomorrow will see the Catalans crowned kings of Spain once more.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of champions-elect Barça's visit to Deportivo Alavés. We're building up to kick-off and have prepared a short preview about the match to give you some background.