MADRID, Spain, March 17- A sublime chip from Lionel Messi brought up his 150th league goal for Barcelona in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Sevilla which cut Real Madrid’s lead to seven points.
A Xavi Hernandez free-kick put Barca ahead after 18 minutes and then Messi continued his blistering goal scoring form with his 14th in six games.
Real Madrid can restore their 10-point cushion when they face Malaga on Sunday.
Coach Pep Guardiola put out his strongest side as Barca continued their pursuit of Real with the only surprise the absence of Carles Puyol from the defence with Javier Mascherano chosen to play alongside Gerard Pique at centre half.
Adriano started at left-back in place of Eric Abidal who will be out of the game indefinitely as he awaits a liver transplant.
Adriano had a deflected shot which looped just over the crossbar and then Pedro Rodriguez, put through by Cesc Fabregas, had a strike parried by the keeper as the Catalan side pressed from the start.
Then Adriano was upended as he surged towards the area by Emir Spahic, who received a yellow card, and Xavi scored from the resultant free-kick.
Goalkeeper Andres Palop got a hand to the ball but could not stop it as it curled into the corner.
Andres Iniesta blazed wide while, at the other end, Manu del Moral caused the first real danger for Sevilla after outpacing Pique but his shot from a tight angle was beaten away by keeper Victor Valdes.
Messi doubled Barca’s lead mid-way through the first half with another collectors’ item.
He nutmegged Spahic on the edge of the area and then chipped the ball over the keeper.
Sevilla are the only side to have taken points off Barca at the Nou Camp this season in the league and they battled back with a Manu header coming back off the woodwork as Pique and Valdes looked on.
Frederic Kanoute had a shot blocked by Valdes while at the other end Pedro also was denied by Palop.
After the break Sevilla began to take the game to the visitors as Barca failed to show the same rhythm in the centre of the pitch and Manu fired inches wide from a Jesus Navas cross.
Iniesta then poked the ball just wide in front of goal after being set up by Messi and substitute Alexis Sanchez had a shot blocked by the keeper after running clear while Manu also had another glaring miss for Sevilla.
Earlier, Getafe put further distance between themselves and the drop zone as they bounced back from three straight defeats to beat second-from-bottom Sporting Gijon 2-0.
Rock-bottom Zaragoza were just minutes away from a much needed victory but Roversio equalised Helder Postiga’s opener after 88 minutes to give Osasuna a 1-1 draw.
Elsewhere an own-goal from Inigo Martinez gave Getafe a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad.