Lionel Messi gave new manager Quique Setien a winning start with the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Granada on Sunday.
Messi’s strike in the 76th minute won a cagey contest at the Camp Nou and prevented the much-anticipated launch of Setien’s new era becoming something of a damp squib.
Victory also sends Barca back to the top of La Liga on goal difference, after Real Madrid had briefly claimed first place following their win over Sevilla on Saturday.
It would have been different if Granada’s Yan Eteki hadn’t struck the post with just over 20 minutes left or their central defender German Sanchez not been sent off for a needless second yellow card soon after.
The extra man was the boost Barca needed and Messi duly poked home his 17th goal in 21 games this season following good work by Arturo Vidal, Antoine Griezmann and the 20-year-old Riqui Puig.
Puig, on for Ivan Rakitic, recovered possession in the corner before Messi picked up the ball centrally.
The talismanic no 10 quickly played in Griezmann, who found Vidal, who then swivelled a flick back into the path of Messi to poke a finish into the corner.
It was enough to secure the three points.