A much-weakened Barcelona secured an important 1-0 win over Mallorca on Sunday night thanks to a first-half header from Luuk de Jong.
Barça came into the game without a host of first team players due to injury and Covid-19, which meant Oscar Mingueza and Ronaldo Araujo filled in at full-back and youngsters Ilias Akhomach and Ferran Jutgla were again handed unlikely starts.
The first half was all about another stand-in, though: De Jong.
His day got off to a terrible start when his first shot went out for a throw-in, but the Dutchman improved markedly as things progressed. First, at full stretched, he toe-poked an effort onto the post and minutes later his bicycle kick cannoned off the bar.
Finally, on the stroke of half-time he did get his goal, rising high at the back post to nod home Mingueza's deep cross. It was no less than Barça deserved with their hosts barely mustering a shot during the first period.
The visitors continued to dominate in the second half but only ever looked like scoring when they pumped the ball into the box. First Ronald Araujo failed to make contact with a free header and then Gerard Pique had a similar effort bundled away.
Meanwhile, Mallorca struggled to break down Xavi's side. However, they did have one significant scare in the dying embers with Marc-Andre ter Stegen having to produce a terrific, reflex stop to keep Jaume Costa's volley out.
The victory leaves Barça fifth in La Liga, just one point shy of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid but still 15 shy of leaders Real.
Here are your player ratings...
Barcelona player ratings
1. Goalkeeper & defenders
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) - 7/10 - Sprayed a few nice passes. His save at the death earned his side the points.
Oscar Mingueza (RB) - 7/10 - A very effective display. He was spotless defensively and carved out a few chances with his crossing. Got an assist too.
Gerard Pique (CB) - 8/10 - Was bizarrely taking free kicks throughout the game. What a wild start to 2022. He defended superbly but was not really tested. Passing was perfect.
Eric Garcia (CB) - 5/10 - Attracted the ire of his manager with some questionable distribution. Positioning was poor as well.
Ronald Araujo (LB) - 6/10 - DId not miss a beat despite being fielded in an unfamiliar role.
Nico (CM) - 7/10 - Such a neat and tidy midfielder. He rarely lost possession and ventured forward dangerously on a few occasions.
Frenkie de Jong (CM) - 7/10 - Ran the game for Barcelona in midfield in the absence of Sergio Busquets.
Riqui Puig (CM) - 7/10 - Made a couple of questionable decisions in the early stages but never stopped trying to make things happen.
Ilias Akhomach (RF) - 7/10 - Such a live wire. He created a string of openings for his side with his passing and direct dribbling. Clearly going to be some player.
Luuk de Jong (ST) - 7/10 - Impressed during a rare start, scoring and hitting the woodwork twice. Perhaps there is a future for him at Camp Nou after all?
Ferran Jutgla (LF) - 5/10 - The least eye-catching of Barcelona's front three. Hard to imagine him featuring once everyone returns.
Alvaro Sanz (CM) - 6/10 - The latest Barcelona youngster to make a first-team debut.
Clement Lenglet (RB) - 6/10
Estanis Pedrola (RF) - N/A
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