A Lionel Messi double in Barcelona's 4-1 win at wasteful Sevilla helped take the champions back to the top of the La Liga table.
Atletico Madrid held pole position going into the weekend, but their defeat to Almeria on Saturday meant Barcelona only needed to win in Andalucia to retake the lead on goal difference and they duly obliged in pouring rain, despite Sevilla's best efforts.
Alberto Moreno opened the scoring at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan when his 15th-minute shot was deflected in by Marc Bartra, but the hosts were unable to pull clear as they missed numerous chances.
Alexis Sanchez equalised with a clever header after 34 minutes, albeit from a seemingly offside position, and Messi put Barcelona ahead just before half-time with his first La Liga goal from open play since September 28 against Almeria.
Messi gave his side a two-goal cushion 11 minutes into the second half with another sumptuous finish and, although the hosts had their fair share of opportunities thereafter, Barca claimed all three points, with Cesc Fabregas adding a late fourth.
Although Barca had more of the early possession, Unai Emery’s seventh-placed side deserved their initial lead, provided by Moreno.
Ivan Rakitic brought the ball into the area from the right flank before combining well with Diogo Figueiras. The ball then dropped to Vitolo, whose nudged pass allowed Moreno to hit a fierce shot that flew in off Bartra.
Sevilla came agonisingly close to doubling their advantage seven minutes later as Carlos Bacca headed against Victor Valdes' right-hand post from a devilish Rakitic free-kick.
Rakitic also skewed wide after being fed into the area by Bacca and Sevilla were made to pay as the champions converted their first opportunity of the game.
Nico Pareja was harshly adjudged to have fouled Messi and, from the resulting free-kick, Sanchez knocked the ball past Beto with the back of his head despite appearing to be offside.
Barca scored again before the break. Diogo missed a tackle near the halfway line and Pedro capitalised by charging forward before cutting the ball back to Messi, who rifled into the bottom-right corner after teeing himself up.
Sevilla continued to spurn clear chances early in the second half, Vitolo stroking wide when one-on-one with Valdes in the 51st minute before Kevin Gameiro shot straight at the goalkeeper when pouncing on a rebound.
Messi then effectively wrapped up the win for Barcelona as he collected an Andres Iniesta pass on the edge of the area and coolly caressed the ball into the bottom-left corner, well out of Beto’s reach.
Bacca held off Gerard Pique before firing into the side-netting as Sevilla sought a response, but Barcelona remained strong at the back and enhanced their flattering lead late on as substitute Fabregas cleverly dinked the ball over Beto after Sanchez's cutback.
|A-League Review: Garcia rescues point for Perth, Adelaide up to second|
|Poyet calls for mid-season break|
|Van Gaal rules out Januzaj move|
|Rodgers: Balotelli may have to get used to bench|
|Lallana: I was trying too hard|
|Pardew braced for Old Trafford test|
|Adriano announces Le Havre deal|
|Song to face ´brother from another mother´ Fabregas|
|Walker juggles music, football careers in Sweden|
|Lescott unfazed by City reunion|
|Tskhadadze appointed Georgia coach|
|United to finish top three - Ferdinand|
|Allardyce: Stamford Bridge stalemate saved my job|
|Southampton need three January signings, says Watson|
|Liverpool can make Champions League, says fanzine editor|
|Walsh: Hull clash crucial for Leicester|
|Toure, Aubameyang and Enyeama make shortlist for African gong|
|Docherty backs Chelsea to win two-horse race|
|Liverpool could benefit from Hyypia influence - Scales|
|Saudi Arabia name Asian Cup squad|
|Forty-year-old Cahill no problem for Postecoglou|
|Wenger criticism baffles Redknapp|
|Leicester must strengthen in window - Walsh|
|United not title contenders - Docherty|
|Koeman: Southampton youngsters will get a chance|
|Dyche empathises with Liverpool striker crisis|
|Cagliari turn to Zola|
|Rooney thanks Van Gaal for Christmas break|
|Cruzeiro offer Paulinho Tottenham exit chance|
|Carlisle´s wife grateful to Burnley|
|Katebe called up to Zambia AFCON squad|
|Cape Verde name AFCON squad|
|Finke names much-changed Cameroon squad|
|Grant omits World Cup troublemakers for AFCON|
|Blackpool striker Ranger goes AWOL|
|Allardyce relishing Mourinho meeting|
|Ashley fails to increase Rangers stake|
|Crystal Palace v Southampton: Koeman calls for focus|
|Warnock targeting striker in January|
|Chelsea v West Ham: Adrian vows visitors will attack|
|Heskey signs short-term deal at Bolton|
|Everton v Stoke City: Martinez eyes strong form|
|Juninho defends David Luiz|
|Burnley v Liverpool: Dyche defends Rodgers ahead of Turf Moor test|
|Arsenal v QPR: Wenger eyes festive momentum|
|Liverpool are growing in confidence, says Rodgers|
|Redknapp: Austin future could depend on survival|
|Martinez wants Everton consistency|
|Barca want Neymar until 2020, says agent|
|Jones undeterred by pressure of Liverpool starting role|
|Allardyce ´knows how to beat managers´ - Carroll|
|Jones playing for a new contract|
|China select Evergrande spine for Asian Cup|
|A-League Preview: Koren tips City to build|
|Khedira keen to fight for Real spot|