Carles Alena and Luis Suarez scored as Barcelona took another big step towards defending their LaLiga title with a 2-0 win at Deportivo Alaves.
Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba were among the stars named on the bench by Ernesto Valverde, who rested Ivan Rakitic entirely, but Barca eased to victory at Mendizorroza on Tuesday.
Alena and Suarez struck within the space of six second-half minutes to boost Barca ahead of their Champions League semi-final clash with Liverpool next week.
The Catalan giants will be confirmed as LaLiga champions for the eighth time in 11 seasons should nearest rivals Atletico Madrid lose at home to Valencia on Wednesday.
Suarez and Philippe Coutinho had early efforts blocked and the striker then saw his shot kept out by the legs of goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco after he was fed by Ousmane Dembele.
Arturo Vidal headed Dembele's right-wing cross over with Gerard Pique seemingly in a better position behind him as Barca sought the breakthrough.
Barca had created few chances in Messi's absence but they took the lead in the 54th minute.
Sergi Roberto, who switched from left-back to right-back at half-time, set up Alena with a clever pass and he beat Pacheco with a placed left-footed finish.
It was soon 2-0 in bizarre circumstances, Pique having a goal ruled out for offside as a VAR review instead led to a penalty for a handball by Tomas Pina.
Pacheco chose correctly in diving to his left but Suarez's penalty beat him for pace, and despite Barca taking a two-goal advantage Valverde sent Messi on for Dembele.
Messi and Vidal failed to add to the scoreline in the closing stages but the champagne can go on ice with the title virtually secured.
What does it mean? Barca close in on possible treble
It is fair to say Barca have not always been at their fluent best this season, but their consistency has to be admired. Since Valverde took charge in 2017 they have only lost three times in LaLiga.
Atletico and Real Madrid have failed to muster a genuine challenge this term, but Barca will not mind as they have been able to rest players including Messi for the Champions League.
Valverde has continually dismissed suggestions the treble is on but with Barca already into the Copa del Rey final they have a serious chance of repeating the feat achieved under Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.
Alena seizes his chance
One of the criticisms of Valverde has been his perceived failure to blood young talent, but Alena made his fifth LaLiga start in Vitoria.
The 21-year-old will surely get more minutes in the league with the title all but assured and four games still to play.
Pina the fall guy
Alaves competed but Pina conceding a penalty gave Barca the chance they needed to secure all three points. He may have thought he had got away with a handball before VAR intervened.
Key Opta Facts
- Suarez joined Ladislao Kubala in third on the list of leading LaLiga goalscorers for Barca (131 goals).
- Barca are the first a team to keep five consecutive away clean sheets against Alaves in LaLiga.
- Among LaLiga defenders, Only Alba (14) has more assists than his team-mate Roberto (seven) this season in all competitions.
- Alaves are without a victory in their last six LaLiga games (D2 L4), their worst winless streak under Abelardo Fernandez.
- Arturo Vidal won 16 duels against Alaves (25 in total), more than any other Barca player in a single game this season in all competitions.
Barca are at home to Levante on Saturday, the same day Alaves go to Athletic Bilbao, but Valverde's attentions may now turn to Liverpool as the treble becomes more realistic.
23 de mayo 2019
|David Luiz hails Cech but hopes to send former team-mate out with a defeat|
|Barcelona snap up Dutch teen star Reis from Groningen|
|PSG president Al-Khelaifi denies alleged corruption relating to World Athletics Championship|
|Juventus fans will learn to love Allegri, says Zaccheroni|
|Halep closest to being WTA´s Nadal - Pliskova|
|Swansea´s James pulls out of Wales squad after father´s death|
|Notts sign India spinner Ashwin|
|Svitolina has no expectations for French Open|
|Sala voice message reveals reluctance over Cardiff move|
|Werner to Bayern? Leipzig´s Rangnick has doubts|
|Willian would be sad to see Hazard leave Chelsea|
|Real Madrid star Vinicius: It was a great year for me|
|Bucks boss Budenholzer baffled by Drake antics in Raptors series|
|Wacha struggles in Cardinals loss|
|Rakitic would ´love´ Griezmann at Barcelona|
|Kawhi Leonard ´feeling good´ ahead of Game 5 – Nurse|
|Socceroos include six debutants for South Korea friendly|
|Jorginho: I´d be surprised if Sarri left Chelsea|
|New York Red Bulls 2 Vancouver Whitecaps 2: Montero earns draw for visitors|
|Rudan to lead A-League newcomers Western United|
|Marta & Orlando Pride eyeing NWSL play-offs|
|Prince, Cecil Fielder amazed by Christian Yelich|
|Don´t be surprised if Durant joins Clippers – Perkins|
|Rudolph confirms five-year offer from Vikings|
|Yankees slugger Stanton shut down for 7-10 days|
|Cipriani named Premiership Player of the Season|
|Boxing set for Tokyo 2020 but AIBA faces suspension|
22 de mayo 2019
|Chelsea on the verge of ´great season´ under Sarri, insists Pedro|
|Halep unperturbed by French Open title challengers|
|Giannis makes NBA All-Defensive First Team|
|Cleveland, Kansas City to host future NFL Drafts|
|Leclerc keen to end drought at ´special´ Monaco GP|
|Wawrinka and Fucsovics upset in Geneva|
|Viviani concludes disappointing 2019 Giro bid|
|FIFA abandons plans for 48-team World Cup in Qatar|
|AFC Champions League Review: Guangzhou Evergrande squeeze through, Kashima Antlers´ title defence co|
|Sabalenka through on busy day in Strasbourg|
|Hamilton excused from media duties after Lauda´s death|
|Arsenal did not offer Ramsey new deal due to ´salary balance´ concerns|
|Hales hopes England door not closed, targets T20 World Cup|
|Ter Stegen out of Copa del Rey final|
|Ewan victory sees Demare nudge into Giro points lead|
|Khawaja sent for scans after blow to head|
|Diego Costa a doubt for start of Atletico´s pre-season with ligament sprain|
|Caballero commits to Chelsea for 2019-20|
|F1 Raceweek: Ricciardo or Red Bull to halt Mercedes? - Monaco GP in numbers|
|Deco: Valverde will be feeling heat at Barcelona after Liverpool loss|
|Caparros to be replaced as Sevilla coach but remain at the club|
|England have no margin for error at World Cup, warns Stokes|
|An iconic character - Villeneuve & Prince Albert remember Niki Lauda|
|Borussia Dortmund sign Leverkusen star Brandt|
|Rudi Garcia to leave Marseille|
|If my job depends on one game, I want to leave Chelsea immediately – Sarri|
|Sarri hopes Hazard stays at Chelsea but will respect any decision|
|NRL Opta facts: Retiring Cronk seeks 100th try|
|Trail Blazers give coach Terry Stotts multi-year extension|
|Guingamp and coach Gourvennec part ways following relegation|
|Coutinho returns to Barcelona training ahead of Copa del Rey final|
|Lam signs new long-term contract with Bristol|
|Aduriz agrees one-year Athletic extension|
|Those Star Wars writers might have been busy! Rodgers unhappy with Game of Thrones finale|
|He should have a statue in Perez´s garden – Real Madrid great lauds Zidane´s return|
|Gyan makes Ghana retirement U-turn after presidential request|
|49ers pass rusher Bosa tweaks hamstring|
|Kroos, Ter Stegen to miss Germany qualifiers|
|Archer brings X-factor to England attack – Root|
|Thorgan Hazard completes Borussia Dortmund move|
|Giannis not feeling pressure despite Raptors revival|
|Gundogan confident Man City will keep Sane despite Bayern links|
|Sterling wants to discuss tackling racism with FA and Premier League|