Lionel Messi scored a sublime goal as Barcelona overcame lowly Almeria to reclaim second spot in La Liga and move one point behind leaders Real Madrid.

Messi scored with a delightful curling 25-yard free-kick to make it 2-0 after Alexis Sanchez had opened the scoring.

But Barca's recent defensive problems again surfaced when Angel Trujillo took advantage of poor marking to score.

Carles Puyol's made it 3-1 after Messi's header came back off the bar before Xavi thumped home the fourth.

The result marked a return to winning ways for Gerardo Martino's reigning champions after a surprise 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad allowed Real Madrid to open up a three-point lead at the summit.

But with the Madrid derby having ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw, Barca have reduced Real's lead to a single point with 12 matches remaining.

Barcelona's Neymar

Neymar was the most wasteful as Barcelona struggled to finish off Almeria before their late flourish.

They could have won by an even more handsome margin in what was a one-sided contest.

After establishing a 2-0 lead in the opening 24 minutes, they wasted a string of chances before turning on the style in the closing stages to score two goals in six minutes.

A team with more quality than Almeria, who are fighting to avoid relegation, might have made the reigning champions pay for their careless finishing.

In truth, Barcelona never looked in danger of throwing away their lead even when Trujillo scored.

There were nine minutes on the clock when Barca took the lead, Sanchez netting his 16th league goal after Cesc Fabregas's low shot was parried into his path by keeper Esteban.

It was 2-0 in the 24th minute thanks to a delicious free-kick from Messi, the Argentina international finding the target with a well-executed 25-yard set-piece.

Barca's key remaining games

23 March: v Real Madrid (away)

18 May: v Atletico Madrid (home)

Yet Barca's defensive wobbles allowed Almeria back into the game.

Having conceded three against Sociedad in the last game, Trujillo was left unmarked to head home from a corner.

Neymar wasted two glorious chances to put the game out of Almeria's reach before defender Puyol scored his first league goal of the season after Messi's header had cannoned off the bar.

Almeria conceded another when Xavi lashed home from 22 yards as Barca scored four goals or more in a league game for the 11th time this season.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (6)

Barcelona

  • 01 Valdés
  • 22 Dani Alves
  • 21 Adriano Booked
  • 16 Busquets
  • 05 Puyol
  • 14 Mascherano
  • 06 Xavi
  • 04 Fábregas (Iniesta - 79' )
  • 10 Messi
  • 09 Sánchez (Pedro - 72' )
  • 11 Neymar (Tello - 88' )

Substitutes

  • 07 Pedro
  • 08 Iniesta
  • 15 Bartra
  • 17 Song
  • 18 Alba
  • 20 Tello
  • 25 Olazábal Paredes

Almería

  • 01 Andrés Suárez
  • 20 Ramos Lozano
  • 16 Dubarbier
  • 07 García Rabasco Booked
  • 05 Trujillo
  • 02 Torsiglieri
  • 31 Azeez Booked (Fernández Saez - 79' )
  • 15 García Pérez-Roldán Booked (Tébar - 72' Booked )
  • 10 Ríos Lozano (Rodrigues Barbosa - 62' )
  • 19 Sundy Zongo
  • 08 Vidal Parreu

Substitutes

  • 04 Martínez
  • 06 Tébar
  • 09 Díaz González
  • 11 Rodrigues Barbosa
  • 17 Fernández Saez
  • 21 Jiménez Ortiz
  • 25 Cuesta Díaz
Ref: Carlos del Cerro Grande
Att: 58,930

Match Stats

Shots

29 6

On target

11 3

Corners

13 4

Fouls

8 12

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Barcelona 4, Almería 1.

90:00 +2:57 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Barcelona 4, Almería 1.

90:00 +1:52

Attempt saved. Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lionel Messi.

90:00 +1:14

Attempt missed. Cristian Tello (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.

90:00 +0:35

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

90:00 +0:35

Foul by Suso (Almería).

90:00 +0:27

Attempt blocked. Pedro (Barcelona) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lionel Messi.

89:39

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

89:39

Foul by Rafita (Almería).

88:12 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 4, Almería 1. Xavi (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Pedro.

87:11 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Barcelona. Cristian Tello replaces Neymar.

86:38

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Sebastián Dubarbier.

86:35

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

85:38 Booking

Booking Marcos Tébar (Almería) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

85:32

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

85:32

Foul by Marcos Tébar (Almería).

82:39 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 3, Almería 1. Carles Puyol (Barcelona) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal following a corner.

82:38

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) hits the bar with a header from the centre of the box. Assisted by Xavi with a cross following a corner.

82:08

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Verza.

82:05

Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Xavi with a cross.

81:39

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Esteban.

81:38

Attempt saved. Pedro (Barcelona) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Xavi.

80:41 Booking

Booking Verza (Almería) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

80:35

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

80:35

Foul by Verza (Almería).

80:07

Corner, Almería. Conceded by Adriano.

78:53 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Almería. Suso replaces Ramón Azeez.

78:29 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Barcelona. Andrés Iniesta replaces Francesc Fábregas.

77:56

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

77:56

Foul by Sebastián Dubarbier (Almería).

75:12

Foul by Javier Mascherano (Barcelona).

75:12

Aleix Vidal (Almería) wins a free kick on the left wing.

74:33

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Rafita.

74:02

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Ramón Azeez.

71:57 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Barcelona. Pedro replaces Alexis Sánchez.

71:27

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

71:06 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Almería. Marcos Tébar replaces Corona.

70:30

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Rafita.

70:17

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

68:27

Foul by Javier Mascherano (Barcelona).

68:27

Jonathan (Almería) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

67:34

Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Francesc Fábregas.

65:33

Attempt missed. Neymar (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Lionel Messi.

63:40

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Aleix Vidal.

63:05

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Sebastián Dubarbier.

62:37

Attempt saved. Aleix Vidal (Almería) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

61:24 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Almería. Hélder Barbosa replaces Rodri.

58:10

Foul by Javier Mascherano (Barcelona).

58:10

Rodri (Almería) wins a free kick on the right wing.

56:33

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

55:53

Attempt saved. Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.

55:28

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

55:28

Foul by Aleix Vidal (Almería).

49:35

Attempt saved. Neymar (Barcelona) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Xavi.

45:00

Second Half begins Barcelona 2, Almería 1.

45:00 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Barcelona 2, Almería 1.

43:34

Attempt missed. Ramón Azeez (Almería) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Aleix Vidal.

42:41

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez with a cross following a fast break.

42:02

Foul by Xavi (Barcelona).

42:02

Rodri (Almería) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

39:47

Attempt missed. Ramón Azeez (Almería) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.

39:07

Corner, Almería. Conceded by Dani Alves.

37:06

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez with a headed pass.

35:30

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

34:44

Attempt missed. Neymar (Barcelona) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Carles Puyol.

34:39

Attempt blocked. Xavi (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lionel Messi.

34:14

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Rafita.

33:26

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

33:26

Foul by Aleix Vidal (Almería).

31:42

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Neymar.

30:12

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

30:12

Foul by Rodri (Almería).

29:25

Foul by Dani Alves (Barcelona).

29:25

Aleix Vidal (Almería) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

28:53

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right.

27:39

Attempt saved. Adriano (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Neymar.

27:20

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Sebastián Dubarbier.

26:07 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 2, Almería 1. Ángel Trujillo (Almería) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Corona with a cross following a corner.

25:35

Corner, Almería. Conceded by Víctor Valdés.

25:34

Attempt saved. Corona (Almería) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right is saved in the top left corner.

24:44 Booking

Booking Adriano (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.

24:40

Hand ball by Adriano (Barcelona).

23:29 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 2, Almería 0. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) from a free kick with a left footed shot to the top left corner.

22:27 Booking

Booking Corona (Almería) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

22:23

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

22:23

Foul by Corona (Almería).

19:59

Attempt saved. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Xavi.

18:44

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Corona.

18:27

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Sebastián Dubarbier.

16:13 Booking

Booking Ramón Azeez (Almería) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

16:02

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

16:02

Foul by Ramón Azeez (Almería).

15:19

Corner, Almería. Conceded by Alexis Sánchez.

15:18

Attempt blocked. Corona (Almería) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is blocked.

14:17

Foul by Dani Alves (Barcelona).

14:17

Aleix Vidal (Almería) wins a free kick on the left wing.

13:25

Hand ball by Sebastián Dubarbier (Almería).

12:45

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

11:52

Sergio Busquets (Barcelona).

11:52

Jonathan (Almería) wins a free kick on the right wing.

11:15

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

11:15

Foul by Ángel Trujillo (Almería).

8:24 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Barcelona 1, Almería 0. Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner.

8:23

Attempt saved. Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Neymar.

7:14

Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Sebastián Dubarbier.

5:15

Attempt missed. Dani Alves (Barcelona) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box misses to the left. Assisted by Xavi.

5:07

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

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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