Barcelona responded to their shock Champions League elimination to Roma by beating Valencia 2-1 on Saturday in a subdued atmosphere at the Camp Nou, setting a La Liga record of 39 games unbeaten and taking themselves a step closer to another title.
Luis SuÃ¡rez gave Barcelona the lead after a quarter of an hour by meeting a delicious outside-of-the-foot pass his from former Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho, scoring with one touch from close range.
The record-signing Coutinho, who joined the club in a Â£142m deal in January, then delivered an outswinging corner from which Samuel Umtiti headed in a second in the 51st minute. His goal came shortly after Gerard PiquÃ© had saved his blushes by clearing a shot off the line from the Valencia forward Santi Mina following a slip by the defender.
The captain Dani Parejo pulled a goal back for third-placed Valencia by squeezing an 87th-minute penalty under the Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-AndrÃ© ter Stegen, but the Catalan club withstood an exciting final spell to move effectively to within seven points of a 25th league title.
Ernesto Valverdeâs side lead their nearest challenger, AtlÃ©tico Madrid, by 14 points, with Diego Simeoneâs team hosting Levante and fourth-placed Real Madrid visiting bottom-placed club MÃ¡laga on Sunday.