Barcelona created a three-point gap between all contenders in the La Liga with a 4-1 triumph over Villarreal at Camp Nou.

Neymar got the first goal 21 minutes into the game but Cedric Bakambu’s goal for Villareal put the on par with their rivals. Lionel Messi’s shot gave them lead before Luis Suarez made it 3-1.

Messi’s penalty secured all three point as Barca increased their advantage ahead of Real Madrid’s clash with Granada.

Andres Iniesta returned to the starting XI after a groin injury gave him an extended leave from football with Andres Gomes the one to sacrifice his place while Lucas Digne  replaced Jordi Alba.

The Catalan club were hoping to frustrate Real Madrid but faced a challenge against a Villarreal side who were hoping to secure a qualification for the Champions League after three successive league win.

Villareal, who has a concession record of just 10 goals prior to this game, proved to be a tough opponent at the beginning of the game.

Messi was handed a chance to score the first goal for Barca after 20 minutes when Alvaro Gonzalez handled at the edge of the box, but the Argentinian shot his free kick over the bar. Replays suggested that the Brazilian looked to be in an offside position.

The hosts finally found a loophole in Villarreal’s defense. Messi found space inside the box and shot the ball past a sea of defenders and found Neymar, who in turn took the ball home.

Misunderstanding between shot-stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Gerard Pique gave the visitors the chance to equalize as the defender deflected a cross onto the crossbar but they failed to take advantage of the move.

Fran Escriba’s side retaliated 31 minutes later as Bakambu raced onto Roberto Soldado’s through ball before comporting and shooting past Ter Stegen to bag his seventh goal in six fixture.

Pique could only glance his header wide after Messi’s cross while Soldado should have given Villarreal the lead with the goal at his mercy as both sides looked to gain a stronghold before the break.

But at the beginning of the second-half, in a historical moment, Messi gavee his side the lead. The Barca genius slipped past the defenses of Rodri before slotting the ball into the bottom corner, with a slight change in direction leaving Fernandez confused.

As the visitors looked ready to strike, a ruthless break saw the Catalans take a 3-1 lead. Sergi Roberto played through Suarez who created space before sprinting past Fernandez and taking the game out of Villarreal’s control.

Jaume Costa’s handball in the box gave Messi the chance to pick up his 51st goal this term and the Argentinian did not disappoint with a Penalty nine minutes from time to give them more advantage in the title race.