MADRID, Spain, September 15 – Barcelona made it four wins in four games with a 4-1 victory at Getafe on Saturday to stay two points ahead of Malaga, who had earlier beaten Levante 3-1, at the top of La Liga.
Brazilian full-back Adriano grabbed an early lead before Lionel Messi left the bench to grab a double, to make it six league goals for him, and assure the points for the Catalan side.
Pablo Sarabia got a late consolation for the home side who never looked like repeating their victory over Real Madrid in their last home game, before the recovering David Villa also came off the bench to claim his second of the season.
Although Barca dominated proceedings they struggled to turn their possession into meaningful attempts on goal and they will worry about a second-half injury to Carles Puyol who left the field clutching his left knee.
They will however be content with a win in one of only two stadiums in which they were beaten in the league last season.
Barca coach Tito Vilanova decided to rest Messi, perhaps with one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League game with Spartak Moscow, leaving the Argentinian on the bench for the first time in just over a year.
It meant ex-Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas started and his contribution was key all evening, particularly for his side’s opening goal.
Cristian Tello had the best early chance when, on five minutes, he burst into the area from the left only for Getafe keeper Miguel Angel Moya to block with his feet.
Thiago Alcantara was the next Barca player to slice through the home defence before striking the bar on 26 minutes.
Former Real Madrid midfielder Pedro Leon then had two attempts for the home side before Adriano put Barca ahead on 32 minutes.
Fabregas made a probing run from deep that caught the Getafe defence off balance.
He managed to stab the ball into the path of Adriano who needed only one touch to grab his second goal in two games for the opener.
Two minutes later, Moya pulled off a great reflex save to deny Thiago and he did the same early in the second period to deny Tello.
Messi appeared from the bench with 30 minutes remaining to slot home a penalty on 74 minutes after Juan Valera had tripped Pedro Rodriguez.
Four minutes later he was on hand to finish a cross from Martin Montoya before Villa rounded-off a straightforward victory for the Catalans.
Malaga beat Levante 3-1 to record their best ever start to a La Liga season with 10 points from four games.
New signing, and former Real Madrid forward, Javier Saviola was the instigator with the first goal before providing an assist for Joaquin Sanchez either side of the break.
Michel had pulled Levante level just after the interval but Malaga deserved the victory and youngster Francisco Portillo rounded of the scoring in the last minute.
The result means the Costa del Sol club will also go into their first ever Champions League campaign on a high ahead of their home game with Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday.
French international full-back Aly Cissokho starred as Valencia beat Celta Vigo 2-1 to record their first win of the season.
The summer signing from Lyon, playing only his second game for the club, headed home a Tino Costa free-kick on 50 minutes for Valencia’s winner.
Early first-half goals by Sofiane Feghouli for the home side and Gustavo Cabral for Celta saw the game level at the interval.
The home side could have added to their tally but will be glad for the confidence boost ahead of a visit to Bayern Munich for their Champions League tie on Wednesday.