Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Dani
Alves, Mascherano, Piqué, Adriano; Xavi, Keita, Iniesta; Cuenca (Puyol
81'), Fábregas (Alexis 58'), Pedro (Tello 58'). 4-3-3.
Sporting: Juan Pablo; Damián Suárez (Barral 48'), Botía, Gálvez, Canella; André Castro, Nacho Cases; Mendy, Pedro Orfila, Ayoze (Carmelo 48'); Miguel De las Cuevas (Eguren 74'). 4-2-3-1.
1-0. 41. Iniesta. Got on the end of Adriano cross to turn shot wide of Juan Pablo.
1-1. 49. Barral. Got ahead of Valdés to turn Mendy's cross in on near post.
2-1. 80. Keita. Fired shot over keeper after Alexis played on Mascherano pass.
3-1. 88. Xavi. Ran on to Iniesta's chipped pass to lob shot over head of keeper.
Yellow cards: Ayoze 28', Canella 29', Iniesta 47', De las Cuevas 64', André Castro 73', Carmelo 74', Keita 76', Eguren 78', Barral 80', Dani Alves 82' / red cards: Piqué 46'.
Barcelona had more problems than expected against struggling Sporting Gijón, although in the end they won 3-1 to close the gap on Real Madrid to seven points pending their game on Sunday. With Messi suspended, Abidal injured and Alexis tired after a gruelling trip to America, Guardiola put out a makeshift side. His opposite number Javier Clemente made his intentions clear though when he put out a "5-5-0" line up without an orthodox centre forward, and right from the start they sat back to defend. That made it difficult for the locals, and their only chances in the first 40 minutes were a strike from Fàbregas which was ruled out for offside, a shot across goal from Adriano and a couple of appeals for penalties on Alves and Keita. When Iniesta opened the scoring late in the first half however, it still looked like Guardiola's side were on for a comfortable win. But a minute after the restart Piqué was sent off for bringing down De las Cuevas, and three minutes later Barral got on the end of Mendy's cross to make it all square. Despite being a man down, Guardiola brought on forwards Tello and Alexis, and Alexis missed an easy chance within minutes of coming on. Another penalty claim for hands by Nacho Cases was also waved away, but with ten minutes to go Keita finally made the break through with a shot over Juan Pablo in to the far top corner of the net. Eight minutes later Xavi wrapped things up with a Messi type lob over the keeper after Iniesta had put him through, but they had to sit out the last few minutes with nine men when Alexis hobbled off with all three substitutions already made.