Bojan Krkić took his chance to shine by scoring twice as FC Barcelona moved three points clear in the Liga, for 24 hours at least, with a 4-1 defeat of sixth-placed Athletic Club at Camp Nou.
Drafted into the starting XI as a last-minute replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimović, who suffered a calf injury in the warm-up, the 19-year-old took centre stage after Jeffrén (27) had scored his first senior goal. Bojan's opener five minutes before half-time was a cool finish after Carles Puyol had seized on possession and played in the striker, while his second owed more to ferocity as he fired Eric Abidal’s cutback into the roof of the net.
Lionel Messi made it four when he turned in Pedro Rodríguez’s inviting cross midway through the second half before Markel Susaeta (77) denied the Azulgrana a clean sheet. The victory means that whatever happens when Real Madrid CF visit Real Racing Club on Sunday, the stage is set for an engaging Clásico between the title rivals at the Santiago Bernabéu next Saturday. Before then, however, Josep Guardiola's team must overcome Arsenal FC in the deciding leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, with the tie level at 2-2.
Further down the table, Sevilla FC lifted themselves to fourth – ahead of RCD Mallorca's trip to UD Almería on Sunday, anyway – with their first victory in six Liga outings, beating CD Tenerife 3-0 thanks to goals from Frédéric Kanouté, Luis Fabiano and José Carlos. Lastly, Real Zaragoza eased their relegation fears via a 2-0 success against Málaga CF, Leonardo Ponzio and Humberto Suazo doing the damage in the second half to haul the victors up to 15th, six points from danger.
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