Liga - Sanchez fires Barcelona to narrow win

La Liga, Camp Nou - Barcelona 1 (Sanchez 68) Espanyol 0.

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Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez (R) celebrates a goal against Espanyol with teammate Neymar during their Spanish First division soccer league match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, November 1, 2013. REUTERS

Barcelona extended their lead at the top of the Liga table to four points as Alexis Sanchez grabbed a second-half goal to complete an unconvincing 1-0 victory over rivals Espanyol.

A devastating through ball from Neymar found the Chilean poaching at the back post to poke home the winner on 68 minutes.

Gerardo Martino's men have been criticised for the style of football they have played this season and tonight's performance will have heightened frustration amongst the Barcelona support as they barely registered a shot on target in the first-half.

In fact, it was their underachieving opponents who had the perfect opportunity to take the lead 10 minutes before the break when Thievy found Sergio Garcia with a threaded through ball but he was denied by Victor Valdes who made a fantastic onrushing save.

Barcelona survived that scare and they came close to breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time when Dani Alves' 25-yard strike beat Kiko Casilla in Espanyol's goal but couldn't beat the post as it crashed against the woodwork.

Lionel Messi failed to break his goal duck and it is now four league games since the Argentine last scored. He had his best chance on 53 minutes when he rose highest to meet Alves' cross but he was denied by the Espanyol goalkeeper.

With the game locked at 0-0 with just over 20 minutes to play, Sanchez spared his side's blushes when he tapped in from Neymar's deadly through-ball.

Despite not stepping out of third gear, Barcelona claimed the three points much to the relief of Martino.

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