Barcelona back on top after Osasuna victory

MADRID: Record signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 14th league goal of the season as champions Barcelona went back to the top of the Spanish league with a hard-fought 2-0 home victory over Osasuna at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Ibrahimovic struck on 72 minutes to break Osasuna’s resilience and substitute Bojan Krkic netted a second two minutes from time as Barca moved three points ahead of Real Madrid at the summit.

With two minutes gone a slick passing move gave Ibrahimvoic a sight of goal and the Swede drilled in a low shot but Ricardo Lopez palmed the effort to safety.

A Thierry Henry lob and a blocked Ibrahimovic shot was all Barca could muster in a disappointing scoreless first half against Osasuna. Guardiola hauled off the disappointing Henry at half-time with Pedro Rodriguez, the latest youth team product, coming on in the Frenchman’s place. Pedro almost had an immediate impact producing a vintage pass in the 53rd minute but the onrushing Messi couldn’t arrive in time.

Osasuna were being pushed back and Yaya Toure combined with Ibrahimovic five minutes later but Toure delayed his run into the box and it proved vital as the ball was just in front of him. Substitute Seydou Keita went close with a header before Barca finally made the breakthrough on 72 minutes with Andres Iniesta releasing Maxwell to fizz a low cross in to give the alert Ibrahimovic an easy tap-in. Swede Ibrahimovic was substituted almost immediately afterwards and his replacement Bojan got the second two minutes from time in a carbon copy of the first goal only this time Iniesta provided the cross.

In other matches, Valencia notched a third straight win beating Malaga 1-0 at home to consolidate third position. David Villa scored the winner in 13th minute as Valencia took advantage of slips from Real Mallorca and Sevilla, who both drew, to strengthen their position.

Valencia lie six points ahead of Real Mallorca, who drew 0-0 at Racing Santander, with Sevilla eight points behind in fifth. Elsewhere, Villarreal missed the chance to close in on the top six with a 2-2 draw at struggling Tenerife and are five points off the top six.