Luis Suarez hailed Barcelona for handling the "pressure" in their 2-0 win at Villarreal and Paco Alcacer for changing the game. Ultimately though, Villarreal would be the ones to eventually gift the points to their visitors as shocking play from a goal kick saw them give the ball straight to Sergio Busquets, who in turn played in Lionel Messi and the Argentine did what he does best, cooling slotting home to assure the three points went home to Catalonia.
After a shaky start to the fixture, Barcelona settled and began to show their dominance at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Villarreal midfielder Roberto Soriano was the Yellow Submarine's main threat, seeing an acrobatic effort well saved by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and firing one shot wide from just out the side box.
Villarreal frustrated Barcelona for long spells, but a red card for Dani Raba in the 60th minute turned the match, and efforts from Luis Suarez and Messi ensured that Ernesto Valverde's side would move five points clear at the top of La Liga.
Valencia remain Barca's closest challengers five points back, but Atletico Madrid also maintained their title charge with a 1-0 win at Real Betis to stay six points off the top.
Luis Suarez was inches from capitalising on that man advantage seven minutes later, nudging Alba's cross onto the right-hand post with an outstretched boot, but the Uruguayan at last made the telling impact in the 72nd minute.
Villarreal had to survive the final half hour a man light when Raba was dismissed for connecting with his studs on Busquets' ankle as the Spanish worldwide cleared.
The hosts dominated possession throughout but were made to pay for their lack of cutting edge, as well as some fine goalkeeping by Jan Oblak.
The score remained goalless at the halftime break.
"One team had the ball, which was Betis, and they tried many different ways to damage us, but the team was very strong defensively", said Atletico boss Diego Simeone.
Malaga climbed off the foot of the table with a 2-0 away win over Real Sociedad.
Athletic Bilbao moved further away from relegation trouble with a battling 2-1 win at fellow strugglers Levante.
Josh Gordon scores first touchdown since December 15, 2013
Josh Gordon's receiving touchdown was his first since Week 15 of 2013 and just the third by a Browns receiver this season. Davante Adams caught 10-of-14 targets for 84 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's Week 14 game versus the Browns.