Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic embraced the art of winning ugly after they beat 10-man Real Betis 2-0 to move closer to retaining their La Liga title.
Barca were far from their sparkling best against Betis after thrashing Sporting Gijon 6-0 and Deportivo La Coruna 8-0 in their previous two games, but were helped by Heiko Westermann’s sending off in the 35th minute for a second booking.
Rakitic put Barca ahead by pouncing on a misunderstanding between Betis keeper Antonio Adan and German Pezzella in the 50th minute and Luis Suarez made sure of the points in the 81st.
“I don’t really care if we shine or not as long as we win,” Croatia international Rakitic told Canal Plus.
“The pitch did not help us and Betis knew what they wanted with that. It was very hot and it was a difficult pitch, but I think we deserved the victory.”
After Barca endured a surprise run of four games without a win to let Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid back into the title race, they are now two wins from making sure of the title.
Barcelona host local rivals Espanyol next Sunday and then travel to struggling Granada on the final weekend of the season.
“If you are top of the league with two games left then you have to win however you can,” added Rakitic.
“We always want people to be happy with our play but now we have to win the league.”
Barca coach Luis Enrique rejected suggestions his team had played poorly.
“I think that people have become used to us being so good that they have lost sight of what competitive football is,” he told a news conference.
“I don’t think we suffered at all, given the pressure you are under in these games, I think we played really well.
“The first half was a bit of a battle but in the second half we were the better team and we were able to finish them off.”