Fantastic weekend for Barcelona despite collapse - Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique felt Barcelona should be happy with what he described as a "fantastic" weekend despite Villarreal recovering from two goals down to draw 2-2 with the champions at El Madrigal on Sunday.
A goal from Ivan Rakitic and a controversial Neymar penalty had the visitors in control, but a second-half strike from Cedric Bakambu and an own goal by Jeremy Mathieu saw Luis Enrique's men pegged back.
Villarreal are the first side two recover from 2-0 down at half-time against Barca in La Liga since Real Sociedad in 2011 and the draw meant the visitors did not take full advantage of Atletico Madrid's shock 2-1 defeat at Sporting Gijon on Saturday.
But while they could not increase their advantage at the top to 11 points, Luis Enrique felt stretching it to nine was still reason to celebrate.
"The team behind us lost and we chalked up a point," said the head coach. "Any time we can earn more points than the team behind us, that's fantastic.
"The result is a positive one. Picking up points over second place is always great and we are one game closer to our objective.
"The game was very tough against quality opposition. It was what we were expecting.
"Villarreal are very good and their stadium is a tough place to play. They know what they are going to do from the first touch and they are tough to stop."
Barcelona's next match is El Clasico against Real Madrid at Camp Nou on April 2, before they host Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final three days later.