Pedri’s first-half strike earned Barcelona a 1-0 win at Villarreal and moved the LaLiga leaders 11 points clear at the summit.
Real Madrid’s closest rivals took full advantage of their Club World Cup assignment – Barca at El Madrigal – with a win over Al Hilal in Saturday’s final.
Pedri played 18 minutes after connecting with Robert Lewandowski, who was repeatedly saved by Villarreal goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Villarreal had a late goal but Samuel Chukwueze’s strike was denied as Barca opened up a double for Madrid, who had a hand in play.
Reina denied Lewandowski one-on-one in the first three minutes, but the Polish forward was instrumental in Barca’s lead.
Pedri played a quick one-two with Lewandowski, controlling the ball when he was in front of goal and calmly taking the ball from Reina.
Lewandowski was blocked again when Reina crossed for him, but Villarreal gave Barca a scare when Jose Luis Morales raced into the side netting.
Both sides continued to create openings time after time, with Raphinha sending power in front of goal and Alex Baena converting from distance at the other end.
Villarreal struck again in the second half and looked to equalize with Chukwueze, but Ereremi was flagged for offside after Barca kept their fifth clean sheet in six league games.
Barcelona player ratings
GK – Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 5/10 – Did he make a save? We don’t think he did.
RB – Jules Kounde – 7/10 – Villarreal tried to play through the left-hand side of their attack and Kounde rarely let those attempts come of anything.
CB – Ronald Araujo – 9/10 – As brilliant as ever. Barcelona would be half the team without him.
CB – Andreas Christensen – 7/10 – Held firm alongside his centre-back partner.
LB – Alejandro Balde – 5/10 – Expected a bit more going forward from the exciting young full-back.
CM – Pedri – 8/10 – Scored the opener after some wonderful interplay with Lewandowski. Barca’s best player in the final third.
CM – Frenkie de Jong – 6/10 – Tidy in possession throughout.
CM – Franck Kessie – 5/10 – Active deeper in midfield than one would perhaps want him to be. Much more effective further up the park.
RW – Raphinha – 4/10 – Has been in great form recently, but not at his best on Sunday evening. Missed a great chance to double Barca’ lead in the second half.
ST – Robert Lewandowski – 7/10 – Bagged an assist for the opener. Links up so well with Pedri and Gavi.
LW – Gavi – 4/10 – Not at his brilliant best.
SUB – Ferran Torres – N.A.
SUB – Jordi Alba – N/A.