Barcelona withstood a second half charge from Real Sociedad to claim a hard-fought 2-1 victory in LaLiga Santander action on Wednesday night at the Camp Nou.
Willian Jose gave the visitors the lead against the run of play in the first half, but the Catalonians fought back with goals from Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong before half-time.
From there, coach Ronald Koeman's men managed to hold on against a side that had their sights set on first place in the table, thanks in part to the heroics of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Koeman went with a pair of young centre-backs in Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingueza, while Pedri came in for Philippe Coutinho in midfield. It was a very positive start for Barcelona and a far cry from the team that had looked stagnant in weeks prior.
Chances for Antoine Griezmann, Pedri and Sergino Dest looked like they would be harbingers for an early goal, but instead against the run of play Real Sociedad would take a 1-0 lead. Barcelona were unable to clear a corner kick and a cross from Portu from the right flank was turned into net by Willian Jose.
Barcelona were able to strike right back, however, with some deep circulation of the ball in the Real Sociedad area, yielding a deflection that Alba ran onto and curled into net to even the score 1-1.
The equaliser opened things up and suddenly there were chances at both ends, including a Griezmann shot that glanced off the crossbar and a wide-open shot for Martin Braithwaite that the Danish striker sent into orbit.
Right before half-time De Jong initially had a goal annulled due to offside, but replays told a different story and VAR later ruled that the Dutchman was onside when he received the cross from Alba before redirecting into net, handing Barcelona a 2-1 lead going into the break.
Barcelona's positivity in their play carried initially into the second stanza and Griezmann was presented with a gilt-edged chance to increase the lead off a pass from Alba, only to see the French striker slide the ball right to Real Sociedad goalkeeper Remiro instead of pushing it forward a yard into an empty net.
Koeman went to his bench midway through the half, bringing on Trincao and Carles Alena for Griezmann and Busquets, respectively, but it was Real Sociedad assuming control thanks to their attacking changes as things entered the final 20 minutes.
Real Sociedad substitute Alexander Isak added a spark and the Swede looked set to score as he began to round Ter Stegen, but a last-ditch intervention from Pedri prevented the shot. The youngster paid the price, though, slamming into the post in the act and had to leave with Miralem Pjanic taking his place.
The last change saw Clement Lenglet come on for Mingueza, but Barcelona were still pegged back in their own half and it took back-to-back saves from Ter Stegen against Willian Jose and Isak to prevent a late disaster.
In the end, the three points belonged to Barcelona for a second straight LaLiga Santander win and fifth place in the table.
2.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dest, Mingueza (Lenglet, min. 79), Araujo, Alba; De Jong, Busquets (Alena, min. 67); Messi, Griezmann (Trincao, min. 66), Pedri (Pjanic, min. 74); Braithwaite.
1.- Real Sociedad: Remiro; Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Le Normand (Sagnan, min. 85), Monreal; Zubimendi, Merino, Guevara (Navarro, min. 56); Portu (Isak, min. 64), Willian Jose, Januzaj (Barrenetxea, min. 56).
Goals: 0-1, min. 27: Willian Jose; 1-1, min. 31: Jordi Alba; 2-1, min. 43: De Jong
Referee: Sanchez Martinez (Murcia). Cards: Januzaj (Min. 20) for Real Sociedad, Busquets (Min. 41) for Barcelona, Barrenetxea (Min. 58) for Real Sociedad, Le Normand (Min. 80) for Real Sociedad, Trincao (Min. 87) for Barcelona, Alena (Min. 93) for Barcelona
Red cards: None
Stadium: Camp Nou
Source: Marca / Arch Bell