Messi’s penalty was his 19th league goal of the season
Lionel Messi scored a late penalty as Barcelona edged to victory over Real Sociedad to move top of La Liga.
Barca go two points clear of Real Madrid, but Zinedine Zidane’s side can regain top spot with victory at Real Betis on Sunday (kick-off 20:00 GMT).
The home side’s spot-kick was awarded for Robin le Normand’s handball, which the referee saw on the pitchside monitor, allowing Messi to convert.
Alexander Isak smashed a shot wide from Sociedad’s best chance of the game.
Barca thought they had a second in the 95th minute when Jordi Alba stroked a finish into an open net, but substitute Ansu Fati was adjudged to be narrowly offside by VAR.
Former Middlesbrough striker Martin Braithwaite, who signed for Barca in an emergency transfer outside the transfer window, was dangerous in the first half, striking a couple of shots straight at Sociedad goalkeeper Alex Remiro.
Ivan Rakitic had a thumping effort from the edge of the area pushed away, while Gerard Pique headed straight at Remiro from inside the six yard box.
Messi seemed to be having an off day when he side-footed a shot wide from 10 yards out and curled another off target, but the skipper proved to be the match winner, clipping home an 81st minute penalty for his 19th league goal of the season.
- Match Stats
- Live Text
- 1ter Stegen
- 2Nélson Semedo
- 3PiquéBooked at 61mins
- 15LengletBooked at 16mins
- 4RakiticSubstituted forVidalat 74'minutes
- 5BusquetsBooked at 88mins
- 21de Jong
- 17GriezmannSubstituted forFatiat 85'minutes
- 10MessiBooked at 42mins
- 19BraithwaiteSubstituted forFirpoat 88'minutes
- 13Murara Neto
- 3LlorenteSubstituted forZubeldiaat 71'minutes
- 24Le Normand
- 16GuevaraBooked at 76mins
- 8MerinoBooked at 56mins
- 7Portugués Manzanera
- 22BarrenetxeaSubstituted forOyarzabalat 58'minutesBooked at 80mins
- 19IsakSubstituted forDa Silvaat 82'minutes
- 9Da Silva
Referee:Juan Martínez MunueraAttendance:77,035
Home TeamBarcelonaAway TeamReal SociedadPossessionHome54%Away46%ShotsHome13Away9Shots on TargetHome6Away1CornersHome4Away4FoulsHome12Away10
Match ends, Barcelona 1, Real Sociedad 0.