Anyway … what a cracking night of Barcelona showing what they are capable of, something they have shown very rarely this year. More of the same from now on, please. Thanks for joining me and goodnight.
Pique: “The three points are very important. The game was important for us and the way we play. We have had times when we haven’t played well but we played well today. We have to carry on like this for the remainder of the season.
“The goal for Antoine is very important to give him confidence.
“We are going to keep fighting to turn the situation around and playing for this club means fighting until the end.”
A superb first-half performance from Barcelona put them in the driving seat and they were not to be budged. Villarreal slowed things down in the second-half but they were never really in it against a Barcelona side who showed how good they could be.
90+2 mins: Messi is felled just outside the area, allowing him the perfect chance to fire a free-kick at goal. He hits the bar and then Braithwaite heads the rebound at goal but Asenjo dives back to turn it behind.
90 mins: Five minutes added on.
89 mins: Andrea Orlandi on comms has just reminded me of the existence of Ousmane Dembele. That’s nice.
GOAL! Villarreal 1-4 Barcelona (Ansu Fati, 87)
Alba lifts the ball down the line to Ansu Fati, who drives into the box and then lets a shot off from 18 yards. It flicks off the legs of Albiol and ends up in the corner, having wrong-footed Asenjo.
85 mins: It’s no surprise that after 10 substitutions that the game has lost a bit of it’s lustre.
83 mins: Things are petering out here.
81 mins: Everyone is very hydrated for the final 10 minutes.
Messi, high on water, picks out Braithwaite in the box. The striker tries to go round the goalkeeper, but Asenjo holds his nerve, forcing the Dane to shoot straight at him.
77 mins: Chukwueze picks up the ball after Braithwaite is dispossessed, takes it into the box and flashes a low drive at goal but Ter Stegen gets down well and holds onto the ball.
Now we have a very late drinks break.
75 mins: Alba once again gets in down the left but his cross is cleared for a corner before Braithwaite can get on the end of it.
73 mins: Wonderfully annoying from VAR there.
NO GOAL! Villarreal 1-3 Barcelona
After a long delay, the goal is disallowed for an offside.
GOAL! Villarreal 1-4 Barcelona (Messi, 69)
It is all Barcelona in this half. The change in style has just made it more congested in midfield, meaning the visitors are just playing a little wider. On this occasion, fine work from Puig takes the ball forward, before Sergi Roberto is slipped through down the right, allowing him to pull it back for Messi to calmly find the corner from eight yards.
67 mins: Messi sends a delightful 50-yard through ball for Rakitic to chase, he collects it and finds Vidal in space but his low shot is repelled by Asenjo. The ball comes straight back at Villarreal, ending with Alba get the ball off Messi but his drive is also blocked by the goalkeeper.
65 mins: Messi is rubbing his toes as something seems to be irritating him. Hopefully he can carry on.
Griezmann, Bruno and Albiol clash. It looked a painful one but everyone gets up.
63 mins: Messi slips the ball out to Griezmann but his dangerous cross fails to find the onrushing Puig, as Villarreal head clear.
Puig performs an incredible dive to try and win a free-kick from Albiol. Don’t be a tosser, mate.
61 mins: Suarez and Semedo go off, with Puig and Rakitic coming on. Sergi Roberto reverts to right-back.
59 mins: Suarez gets beyond the defence thanks to a perfect Vidal pass but the Uruguayan delays giving it to Griezmann for a tap, instead holding onto the ball and hitting his shot against the side netting off the fingertips of Asenjo.
57 mins: Trigueros replaces Cazorla. He showed a few nice touches tonight but could exhibit the influence he wanted.
A dreadful pass from Semedo across the back is intercepted by Chukwueze but the winger takes a bad touch and it goes through to Ter Stegen. The winger complains that Lenglet held him back but the referee disagrees.
55 mins: The change in formation formation form Villarreal seems to have taken some of the freewheeling out of the game and it seems a little slower. Barcelona are happy to keep possession for as long as possible.
53 mins: Griezmann combines with Messi as the Frenchman chests down a cross into the path of his teammate, who goes for volley which loops into Asenjo’s arms.
51 mins: Messi tries to go on a run from around the halfway line but he is quickly crowded out and dispossessed as everyone is now playing in central midfield.
49 mins: There is an extra man in midfield for Villarreal and it has become pretty congested in the centre of the park. Barcelona might need to adjust his plan.
47 mins: No goals or even chances in the opening two minutes of the second period. Pathetic.
Let’s hope for more of the same.
Moi Gomez and Bruno are on for Villarreal. Luckily, Gerard Moreno has gone off, which solves one problem. Iborra is also off.
Jordi Gomez Suay rightly points out that I am an idiot: “Alcoyano is a humble team from the South of Valencian community, with a short stint in Primera in the 40’s. It’s mostly remembered for the expression “the morale of Alcoyano” (morale in sense of faith, optimism).
“One of the legends about the origin of the expression is that they had a player who would kick a corner and run to the melee in the box.
“We may think that Barça is playing Alcoyano if you don’t start distinguishing Alberto Moreno And Gerard Moreno.”
This gig isn’t easy!
Which goal was better? Suarez or Griezmann?
I will go with the latter.
Watch this on repeat as I lie down for 15 minutes.
This is definitely the best game in the world post-restart. Barcelona have been utterly incredible and no one in the world could cope with them playing at this level. More of the same please after the break.
45 mins: Three minutes added on.
GOAL! Villarreal 1-3 Barcelona (Griezmann, 44)
WHAT A GOAL! Messi takes the ball off Griezmann, then looks to skip into the box, stops to backheel it to the Frenchman who exquisitely chips the ball from the edge of the box over the goalkeeper into the top corner. That was truly sublime.
42 mins: Suarez has two incredible chance to make it 3-1, as Alba gets in down the left again. He plays it into the Uruguayan, whose first shot is blocked and the second saved. Oh, they were both offside. Anyway, I am not wasting this entry.
40 mins: This game has been utterly relentless. I am tired just watching, possibly as I’ve not had a day off in the last three weeks.
This time Moreno sends the ball out to Chukwueze, who sends in a cross which is calmly claimed by Ter Stegen.