Barca leapfrogs Sevilla to close in on Real

With a strong 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao, defending Spanish champions FC Barcelona sends a message to Real Madrid that they are not to take comfort in their table leader position.

Their victory at Camp Nou meant that they are now second place in La Liga and within one point from Real, leapfrogging Sevilla, who failed to defeat Villareal on home ground.

With Luis Suarez rested, Paco Alcacer made a rare starting appearance and scored his first La Liga goal for Barcelona when he turned home Neymar’s cross from 10 yards.

Lionel Messi put Barca in a comfortable position five minutes before half-time, doubling the Catalans’ lead when he beat Athletic keeper Gorka Iraizoz at his near post from a right-wing free-kick.

Aleix Vidal sealed the victory after an inspiring individual run past several defenders.

His goal meant that Barca is now the first European team to score 100 times in all competitions this season, with Ligue club Monaco also reaching the landmark later in the afternoon.

While Barca is now just a point within Real Madrid, the European champions still have two games in hand after their scheduled match away to Celta Vigo was postponed due to storm damage to the Balaidos stadium.

Sevilla, two points behind Barca after failing to win against Villareal, could also rise past Real if Los Blancos fail to win at Osasuna next week.

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