De Jong goal, assist earns Barcelona important win at Elche

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Elche 0 - 2 Barcelona

Barcelona secured an important 2-0 win at Elche to keep pace at the top of La Liga.

Frenkie de Jong and Riqui Puig scored at the end of each half to secure the points for Ronald Koeman’s side .

The result sees Barca remain in third place, behind Real Madrid and leaders Atletico Madrid.

Barca were without captain Lionel Messi who was serving the second of a two-game ban for his red card in last weekend’s Supercopa final.

Barca were dominant from the first whistle but Ronald Araujo and Antoine Griezmann missed close range headers early on.

However, De Jong opened the scoring just before half-time as he reacted quickest to score an easy tap-in.

The hosts came close to scoring an equaliser 10 minutes into the second half but Marc-Andre ter Stegen produced a great save from Emiliano Rigona.

Barca wrapped up the points in stoppage time when De Jong set up Puig to score a second.

“We have been playing a bit better since the year began, we’ve won all our games which shows we have improved,” De Jong said, who has scored three times and provided two assists in his last six matches in all competitions.

“We had to press them hard because they wanted to play the ball out from the back and if you don’t press properly as a team it can get difficult. This was not an easy game but we worked hard and are very happy to have won it.

“Scoring goals and providing assists doesn’t mean you are playing better necessarily but I’m very happy to have done so.”