Alexis Sanchez's second-half winner helped leaders Barcelona beat neighbours Espanyol and stretch their unbeaten La Liga start to a 12th game.

Barcelona dominated possession and territory against their city rivals, but did not make a breakthrough until Sanchez tapped in Neymar's low cross.

Dani Alves hit the Espanyol post, soon after he almost gifted Victor Sanchez a first-half goal for the visitors.

Misfiring Messi

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi failed to score in his fourth successive La Liga match - his longest goalless run since April 2011

Barca are four points clear of Atletico Madrid, who host Bilbao on Sunday.

Under new boss Gerardo Martino, the Catalans have won 11 of their opening 12 matches, including last weekend's 2-1 home win over arch-rivals Real Madrid.

But the Spanish title holders were not at their most fluent against an Espanyol side that started the game in eighth place.

Despite their control, Barca rarely forced Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla into a first-half save and were fortunate not to fall behind after 38 minutes.

Brazil right-back Alves failed to deal with a hopeful through ball and it allowed Espanyol midfielder Sanchez to poke goalwards. But the ex-Barcelona player saw his effort blocked by home goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Alves almost made amends for his error in the final moments of the first half when his low shot, following a neat one-two with Sergio Busquets, struck the base of Casilla's right-hand post.

Home comforts

Barcelona have won 21 consecutive home league games - their best run since 1974.

And Barcelona's dominance continued after the break. Espanyol goalkeeper Casilla kept his side level by diving low to his right to push out Lionel Messi's header, but he was powerless to stop Chile forward Sanchez netting the opener.

Barca's £50m summer signing Neymar drilled a low cross through a body of Espanyol defenders and an unmarked Sanchez, who also scored against Real Madrid on Saturday, was waiting at the far post to tap in.

Second-placed Atletico have won 10 of their opening 11 games, while third-placed Real Madrid, who visit Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, are a further five points behind.

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (5)

Barcelona

  • 01 Valdés
  • 22 Dani Alves
  • 02 Montoya
  • 16 Busquets
  • 03 Piqué
  • 14 Mascherano Booked (Bartra - 89' )
  • 06 Xavi
  • 08 Iniesta (Fábregas - 86' )
  • 10 Messi
  • 09 Sánchez (Pedro - 83' )
  • 11 Neymar

Substitutes

  • 04 Fábregas
  • 07 Pedro
  • 13 Pinto Colorado
  • 15 Bartra
  • 17 Song
  • 20 Tello
  • 24 Sergi

Espanyol

  • 13 Casilla Cortés
  • 03 Rodríguez
  • 18 Fuentes Hernández Booked
  • 14 López Silva
  • 06 da Silva Junior
  • 15 Moreno
  • 07 Bifouma Koulossa (Córdoba - 63' )
  • 04 Sánchez Mata Booked
  • 09 García de la Fuente
  • 23 González Casanova (Lanzarote - 83' Booked )
  • 25 Torje

Substitutes

  • 01 Parreño Boix
  • 05 Tejera
  • 11 Capdevila
  • 12 Lanzarote
  • 19 Colotto
  • 22 Fernández Iglesias
  • 24 Córdoba
Ref: Carlos Velasco Carballo
Att: 79,977

Match Stats

Shots

19 8

On target

5 2

Corners

9 2

Fouls

7 19

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Barcelona 1, Espanyol 0.

90:00 +3:02 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Barcelona 1, Espanyol 0.

90:00 +2:24

Offside, Barcelona. Francesc Fábregas tries a through ball, but Pedro is caught offside.

89:38 Booking

Booking Manuel Lanzarote (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

89:31

Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the left wing.

89:31

Foul by Manuel Lanzarote (Espanyol).

88:56

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Raúl Rodríguez.

88:55

Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Francesc Fábregas.

88:37 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Barcelona. Marc Bartra replaces Javier Mascherano.

88:04

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Kiko Casilla.

88:03

Attempt saved. Pedro (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Francesc Fábregas with a through ball.

87:06

Attempt missed. Dani Alves (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Lionel Messi.

86:20

Offside, Espanyol. Jhon Córdoba tries a through ball, but Manuel Lanzarote is caught offside.

86:19

Attempt blocked. Jhon Córdoba (Espanyol) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Gabriel Torje.

85:42 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Barcelona. Francesc Fábregas replaces Andrés Iniesta.

83:44

Attempt missed. Manuel Lanzarote (Espanyol) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Fuentes with a cross.

83:15

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

83:15

Foul by Héctor Moreno (Espanyol).

82:54 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Espanyol. Manuel Lanzarote replaces Abraham.

82:36 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Barcelona. Pedro replaces Alexis Sánchez.

82:07

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

80:51

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

80:51

Foul by Víctor Sánchez (Espanyol).

80:06

Javier Mascherano (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

80:06

Foul by Sergio García (Espanyol).

78:54

Attempt missed. Sergio García (Espanyol) right footed shot from the right side of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Kiko Casilla.

76:58 Booking

Booking Javier Mascherano (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

76:48

Foul by Javier Mascherano (Barcelona).

76:48

Sergio García (Espanyol) wins a free kick on the right wing.

76:01

Offside, Barcelona. Martín Montoya tries a through ball, but Sergio Busquets is caught offside.

72:46

Javier Mascherano (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

72:46

Foul by Sergio García (Espanyol).

72:14

Corner, Espanyol. Conceded by Gerard Piqué.

72:12

Attempt blocked. David López (Espanyol) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Gabriel Torje.

70:19

Foul by Dani Alves (Barcelona).

70:19

Gabriel Torje (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

67:10 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 1, Espanyol 0. Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Neymar.

66:16 Booking

Booking Víctor Sánchez (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

66:08

Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

66:08

Foul by Víctor Sánchez (Espanyol).

64:58

Offside, Barcelona. Xavi tries a through ball, but Sergio Busquets is caught offside.

64:37

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Fuentes.

62:18 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Espanyol. Jhon Córdoba replaces Thievy.

61:57

Attempt missed. Neymar (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Dani Alves with a cross.

60:37

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

59:45

Delay in match Thievy (Espanyol) because of an injury.

59:14

Foul by Martín Montoya (Barcelona).

59:14

Thievy (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

58:29

Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

58:29

Foul by Thievy (Espanyol).

56:25

Attempt missed. Xavi (Barcelona) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez with a cross.

53:47

Attempt missed. Xavi (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Neymar.

53:34

Attempt saved. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez with a headed pass.

51:13

Neymar (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

51:13

Foul by Abraham (Espanyol).

48:40

Xavi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

48:40

Foul by Sergio García (Espanyol).

48:02

Attempt blocked. Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

45:00

Second Half begins Barcelona 0, Espanyol 0.

45:00 +0:40 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Barcelona 0, Espanyol 0.

44:51 Booking

Booking Fuentes (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

44:41

Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the right wing.

44:41

Foul by Fuentes (Espanyol).

43:55

Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the left wing.

43:55

Foul by Thievy (Espanyol).

43:22

Dani Alves (Barcelona) hits the left post with a right footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Sergio Busquets.

43:13

Attempt saved. Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

42:51

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Fuentes.

42:19

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Víctor Sánchez.

41:55

Dani Alves (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the right wing.

41:55

Foul by Sergio García (Espanyol).

40:12

Attempt missed. Xavi (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Neymar.

37:17

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Héctor Moreno.

36:52

Martín Montoya (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the left wing.

36:52

Foul by Thievy (Espanyol).

36:39

Attempt blocked. Neymar (Barcelona) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Andrés Iniesta.

35:19

Corner, Espanyol. Conceded by Víctor Valdés.

35:18

Attempt saved. Víctor Sánchez (Espanyol) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Thievy with a through ball.

34:56

Foul by Neymar (Barcelona).

34:56

Raúl Rodríguez (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

34:21

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.

33:07

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

33:07

Foul by Víctor Sánchez (Espanyol).

31:13

Xavi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

31:13

Foul by Héctor Moreno (Espanyol).

30:18

Attempt saved. Gabriel Torje (Espanyol) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sergio García.

27:47

Attempt missed. Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Dani Alves with a headed pass.

18:41

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Fuentes.

17:28

Gerard Piqué (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

17:28

Foul by Gabriel Torje (Espanyol).

15:43

Offside, Barcelona. Xavi tries a through ball, but Dani Alves is caught offside.

15:14

Attempt blocked. Martín Montoya (Barcelona) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

15:11

Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Neymar.

14:28

Dani Alves (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

14:28

Foul by Héctor Moreno (Espanyol).

13:32

Foul by Gerard Piqué (Barcelona).

13:32

Sergio García (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

12:09

Offside, Barcelona. Xavi tries a through ball, but Neymar is caught offside.

11:29

Neymar (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

11:29

Foul by Raúl Rodríguez (Espanyol).

10:58

Foul by Lionel Messi (Barcelona).

10:58

Gabriel Torje (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

7:29

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Gabriel Torje.

5:51

Foul by Dani Alves (Barcelona).

5:51

Gabriel Torje (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

5:43

Attempt saved. Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Andrés Iniesta.

4:48

Attempt missed. Gabriel Torje (Espanyol) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Abraham.

2:18

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Fuentes.

1:55

Hand ball by Sergio García (Espanyol).

1:29

Attempt blocked. Thievy (Espanyol) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Sergio García.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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