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Barcelona strengthened their grip on second place with a 2-1 victory over RCD Mallorca at the Camp Nou to inflict a ninth successive away loss on ‘Los Piratas’ and a 14th straight managerial loss for Javier Aguirre against Barça in the process.

Both Barcelona and Mallorca needed the points here, but for very different reasons. Barça find themselves in a race for second place, whilst Mallorca are staring down the barrel of an instant return to the Spanish second tier, though it was a very even start at the Camp Nou. Naturally, Barça dominated possession but struggled to create any clear-cut chances besides a wayward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang header. As is so often the case though, Barça made their period of dominance count when Memphis Depay was the beneficiary of some fine work from Jordi Alba to tee up the Dutchman, who made no mistake in finding the bottom corner to fire Xavi’s side into an HT lead.

A second goal would undoubtedly have made life much simpler for Barcelona, and it didn’t take the hosts long to double their advantage. Ferran Torres wriggled free on the edge of the area and his deflected effort fell kindly into the path of Sergio Busquets, who took one touch to control and another to rifle a left-footed effort beyond the reach of Sergio Rico. From there on in it was all about game management for Barça, who almost passed the visitors to death at times with the rebirth of tiki-taka well underway in the Catalan region.

At times, Barça were perhaps toying with Mallorca and, despite being denied earlier, Torres wasn’t giving up. This time he managed to finish off an ugly goalmouth scramble by bundling the ball over the line, but a swift VAR check adjudged the Spaniard to have been offside as he swept home. That disallowed goal kept Mallorca in the game, and they halved the arrears with 10 minutes remaining through Antonio José Raíllo Arenas, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to claim anything by way of points and Mallorca remain firmly in the relegation mix-up with four games remaining.

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