MADRID (AFP) - Lionel Messi netted his 30th and 31st league goals of the season as Barcelona inched closer to retaining their La Liga title with a 4-1 home win over relegation-threatened Tenerife at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
The Catalans are now four points clear of Real Madrid at the summit with just two games left, but Real have a game in hand and must win at fourth-placed Real Mallorca on Wednesday to keep their title hopes alive.
Messi put Barcelona ahead on 17 minutes and added a second in the final minute to stay on course to win the Pichichi crown for the league's top scorer, as he is currently six goals ahead of his nearest rival, Real striker Gonzalo Higuain.
Argentine Roman Martinez stunned the champions by equalising for Tenerife shortly before half-time following an error from home captain Carles Puyol.
But second-half goals from Bojan Krkic (in the 63rd minute) and substitute Pedro Rodriguez (77) turned the game in Barca's favour before Messi rubbed salt in the wound with his late strike.
"It was a difficult night due to the weather and the fixture list is already taking its toll but we gave our all," said Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
"It is a very competitive league and we have won our game and now we just have to wait."
Barcelona will hope Mallorca can do them a favour against Real as they turn their focus to Saturday's tough trip to Champions League hopefuls Sevilla.
Promoted Tenerife, who have won just once on their travels all season, stay third from bottom, although they are level on points with Malaga above them.
Valencia sealed a place in the Champions League qualifying round after coming from behind to defeat bottom side Xerez 3-1 at the Mestalla later on Tuesday.
Spain international winger Juan Mata scored a brace before setting up David Silva for a third as third-placed Valencia made sure of a top-four finish and moved to within a point of an automatic place in next season's Champions League.
Xerez prop up the table, as they have done for most of the season, lying five points from safety and could be relegated on Wednesday if results go against them.
A rain-soaked night and the mid-week fixture kept some Barcelona fans away for the visit of Tenerife at Camp Nou and the wet surface made passing tricky for both sides.
On 12 minutes Barcelona right-back Dani Alves had the first real opening but chose to pass when shooting seemed the best option and the chance went begging.
Barca got the early goal they craved on 17 minutes with Ibrahimovic heading down an Alves cross and Messi chipping in from close range for his 30th league goal of the campaign.
The hosts should have made it 2-0 on 34 minutes but Maxwell chose to shoot from an acute angle rather than squaring to Ibrahimovic.
The miss was punished six minutes before half-time when captain Puyol produced a rare stray pass to gift possession to Tenerife and Argentine Roman slotted the ball past Valdes.
Bojan restored Barca's lead just after the hour, latching onto a neat pass from the active Alves before finishing coolly into the bottom-left corner.
A lighting counter-attack then released Pedro, who chipped his shot just wide, but on 77 minutes the substitute found the net after racing onto Messi's pass and sliding a shot under the goalkeeper.
In the dying seconds of the game Messi controlled Alves's lofted pass in the penalty area before dinking in to cap an ultimately comfortable win.
Elsewhere, Almeria defeated Villarreal 4-2 to dent the visitors' hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.
Villarreal had Argentine centre-back Mateo Musacchio sent off after just 16 minutes and Almeria took full advantage, racking up a 3-0 lead by half-time.
Villarreal fall to seventh, behind Getafe on goal difference after the Madrid-based side drew 1-1 at home to strugglers Sporting Gijon.
|10||L. Messi||17' 90'|
for Piqué 46'
for Z. Ibrahimovic 66'
for Bojan 81'
|UEFA Champions League Review: Ajax crash out after home defeat|
|Blackpool handed suspended deduction|
|Bayern Munich 3 Milan 0: Guardiola and De Jong lock horns in tunnel|
|Akpom, Ojo and Solanke on the move|
|McClaren: No Newcastle bid for Austin|
|Real Madrid 2 Tottenham 0: Bale on target against former club|
|Mangala vows to improve on debut campaign|
|Tomlin completes Bournemouth switch|
|Astra v West Ham: Page hungry for first-team action|
|Di Maria arrives in Qatar for PSG medical|
|Vitesse v Southampton: Caulker prepared to wait for his chance|
|UEFA rejects Fenerbahce´s Fred appeal|
|Watford show support for assaulted fan as police charge six|
|Ibrahimovic to miss PSG opener|
|Klopp suited to Bayern job - Watzke|
|Eredivisie season-opener postponed due to police strike|
|Dortmund v Wolfsberger: Tuchel set for home bow|
|Griezmann at the double in Atletico win|
|Japan v South Korea: Halilhodzic calls for ´pride´|
|Mourinho enjoying improved relationship with Abramovich|
|Gradel agrees Bournemouth return|
|Inter switch an ´easy decision´ for Miranda|
|Bojan eyes early comeback|
|Vitesse hopeful over Solanke loan deal|
|Pedro will decide his own future - Luis Enrique|
|Iniesta handed Barcelona armband|
|Kukesi punished after Europa League abandonment|
|Leno hints at Leverkusen exit|
|Benitez explains Ronaldo absence|
|Pochettino backs Kane to be among world´s best|
|Messi not ruled out of Mexico friendly - Martino|
|China v North Korea: Kim´s side look for another win|
|River Plate v Tigres UANL: Copa Libertadores final evenly poised|
|Real target Ceballos focused on Betis - Mel|
|Torres: I´d give my life to win La Liga with Atletico|
|Platini can lead FIFA change - Fernandez|
|Mel: Betis won´t be signing Osvaldo|
|Ferrero defends Samp boss Zenga|
|Pochettino expects Spurs improvement|
|Bale ideal for United - Robson|
|Ferdinand: Di Maria will regret United failure|
|Benitez pleased with goalkeepers as De Gea transfer saga continues|
|Guardiola tips fit Schweinsteiger to shine|
|Confident Oxlade-Chamberlain hits back at Keane|
|Ferdinand: Stones would be ´a lunatic´ to join Chelsea|
|Qarabag v Celtic: Gordon wants positivity from Scottish champions|
|Higuain rejects extension from Napoli|
|Zamora returns to Brighton|
|West Ham can cope without Valencia - Gold|
|Wickham loses on Palace debut|
|Guardiola: No problem with Matthaus and Effenberg comments|
|Cartabia excited by Deportivo loan|
|Lyon confirm Rafael deal|
|Hysaj agrees deal to follow Sarri to Napoli|
|Rafael says his goodbyes to Manchester United|
|Dos Santos ready to get going with Galaxy|
|Pochettino rejects Soldado exit talk|
|Metatarsal misery for Mulumbu|
|Benitez: Benzema and Bale going nowhere|
|Mihajlovic: Ibrahimovic would make Milan title contenders|
|Hughes not taking any risks with Bojan|
|Guardiola relishing Audi Cup test|
|Di Maria ´taking a step up´ - Silva|
|Leicester bring in defender Benalouane|
|Deulofeu doubtful for Premier League opener|
|West Ham striker Valencia out for three months|
|UEFA: Qarabag-Celtic to go ahead|
|Palace seal Wickham swoop|
|Ronaldo and Benzema to miss Audi Cup|
|Marotta: Juventus could lose Pogba|
|Kante completes Leicester switch|
|Khedira ruled out for two months|
|FA accepts Mourinho criticism of Wembley surface|
|Robben rubbishes injury talk|
|Marchisio expects Milan title challenge|
|Rafael set for Lyon move|
|Celtic ´seeking reassurances´ over Qarabag pitch|
|Wenger beating Mourinho does not affect Chelsea - Zouma|
|Rooney moved by Everton welcome|
|Mancini not worried by lack of Inter goals|
|Coloccini wants to finish career at Newcastle - McClaren|
|Ramsey: Pressure to win trophies is nothing new|
|Terry: Wembley defeat could be a ´blessing in disguise´|
|Blatter not running for IOC re-election|
|Bendtner: Wolfsburg can challenge Bayern for Bundesliga honours|
|Liverpool relishing Britannia return, says Henderson|
|Everton big enough to keep Stones - Martinez|
|MLS Review: Fire stun Dallas as goals dry up|
|New Atletico signings excite Raul Garcia|
|Cahill expects Arsenal title challenge|
|Jovetic happy with Inter debut|
|Luis Enrique: Barca defence must improve|
|Yanev calls for calm after ugly scenes in friendly|
|Coppa Italia Review: Cittadella romp to victory, Brescia rely on penalties|