Lionel Messi scored two late goals on Saturday as leaders Barcelona won 3-0 away to Hercules, their 15th consecutive victory matching the La Liga record set by Real Madrid in the 1960-61 season.
Promoted Hercules stunned the champions with a 2-0 win at the Nou Camp back in September, the only defeat Barca have suffered in the league this season, and they made life tough for the visitors until Pedro struck just before the break.
World player of the year Messi scored twice in as many minutes at the end after the hosts were reduced to 10 men following a second yellow card for Francisco Farinos in the 85th.
Barca moved on to 58 points from 21 games, pulling seven clear of second-placed Real Madrid who visit lowly Osasuna on Sunday.
Scoring just before the break helped us a lot but 1-0 is always a dangerous scoreline, any lost ball can put you in danger. The red card for Farinos helped us a lot," Barca coach Pep Guardiola told reporters.
It could have been a different story at the Rico Perez if David Trezeguet had been able to put away a good chance in the 20th minute, as Hercules unsettled the visiting defence.
Barca were knocked out of their stride until Xavi picked out Pedro in the area and the Spain forward thumped a shot inside the near post, scoring for a sixth consecutive league game.
They took the sting out of the encounter after the break but were unable to settle the match until Farinos was sent off and Messi, who had had a poor game by his standards, skipped through to score in the 87th.
Two minutes later, Dani Alves crossed for the Argentine to tap in Barca's third goal, taking his league tally for the season to 21 behind Real's Cristiano Ronaldo on 22.
In the late game, Deportivo Coruna's Laure grabbed a hotly-disputed late equaliser in a 3-3 draw at home to 10-man Sevilla.
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