It wasn't quite the washout that some fans were expecting, but it was enough. A quickfire double in the dying stages of the match from club captains Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez ensured that Barcelona cut the gap to league leaders Real Madrid down to just one point, as the Blaugrana pounced on Real slip-up against city rivals Atletico to beat Almeria 4-1 at the Camp Nou. Despite exhibiting complete control over proceedings on the night, Barça couldn't put the game to bed until late -- though with the three points in the bag, Culés have little to complain about.
Not that it will stop them mind you...
Alexis Sanchez grabbed the opener with a predatory tap-in after Almeria goalkeeper Estefan failed to parry Cesc Fabregas' shot to safety, while Lionel Messi added a memorable second with a sumptuous free kick. Just as it looked as though Barcelona were about to run riot, Angel Trujillo halved the deficit by converting a free header following Corona's corner kick.
Almeria continued to hang onto the match, and were just one counter-attack or set piece away from equalising, but Barça pressed on an never lost confidence, knowing that a goal would materialise sooner or later. And sure enough, that goal did come -- albeit through an unlikely source as Carles Puyol converted from close range before Xavi added the gloss with a trademark long-range effort. All in all, a more than satisfactory performance from the hosts, and an important victory too. Not much more you can ask for really.