Lionel Messi puts Barcelona on top
Madrid: Barcelona rounded off a fine week to move top of La Liga as they overcame stiff resistance from local rivals Espanyol to win 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Lionel Messi.
The Argentine scored the only goal of the game 14 minutes from time at Cornella El Prat after Javi Lopez was adjudged to have handled inside the area.
Espanyol were then reduced to 10 men when goalkeeper Kiko Casilla saw a straight red card for blocking Messi's goalbound effort with his hands outside the area.
Victory moves Barca two points clear of Atletico Madrid and five ahead of Real Madrid with both sides from the capital in action later on Saturday against Athletic Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano respectively.
"Derbies are always the same and you have to win them," said a relieved Barca boss Gerardo Martino.