Barcelona recorded a comfortable win over Rayo Vallecano thanks to first half goals from Neymar and Lionel Messi.
Rayo stayed true to their principles and looked to press Barca high up the pitch but that high line was their downfall, both goals coming after one pass took out the entire backline.
The hosts ended the match with 10 men after Jorge Morcillo was dismissed but the game was largely over as a contest by then thanks to a pair of quick-fire Barca goals.
Messi got the first after 35 minutes and moments later Neymar got the second, the Argentine’s goal taking him to within two of Telmo Zarra’s all-time Spanish record of 251.
Luis Enrique rang the changes from the side that was beaten by Paris Saint-Germain, introducing five new faces, whereas Paco Jemez made only one alteration from the team that beat Levante last week.
Rayo went closest to opening the scoring in a competitive start, Alberto Bueno drawing a fine save from Claudio Bravo, who, at the 20-minute mark, set a new record for minutes without conceding at the start of the season – some 561.
Bueno’s chance was the best of the early stages, with Rayo furiously pressing Barca all over the pitch, but Tono had to be alert to snuff out Messi at the end of a flowing Barca move.
Barca looked to spring Rayo’s high line but at first the passes and runs rarely matched up, but eventually it clicked for Barca and Rayo’s high-risk strategy was exploited.
Messi, having had a goal disallowed minutes earlier, got it right from Gerard Pique’s lofted ball and lobbed the on-rushing Tono to put Barca in front.
It was two moments later when Barca regained possession deep in their own half, two passes setting Neymar away for an easy finish.
Munir El Haddadi should have made it three before half-time in exactly the same fashion but he tried to go round Tono, the goalkeeper’s out-stretched leg causing the forward to stumble, but a goal kick was given, rather than a penalty.
The second half started without the fury of the first, Pique going closest to another goal with a header that cleared the crossbar, while Leo Baptistao stung Bravo’s gloves with a fierce effort.
Rayo’s task got more difficult on the hour when Jorge Morcillo was shown a second yellow, bringing down Neymar with a late challenge 25 yards from goal.
The red card took the sting out of both the game and Rayo, Jemez’s side coming as close as they ever do to shutting up shop, then pushing Barca as the game came to an end, but ending with nine men after Javier Aquino was dismissed in injury time.
Barca meanwhile didn’t overexert themselves, but still had some half-sights of goal – Messi particularly wasteful – and maintained their League clean sheet streak with a straightforward win.
Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Barcelona
Messi 35, Neymar 36 (FCB), Morcillo s/o 60, Aquino s/o 90+2 (RV)
Rayo Vallecano: Tono; Tito, Abdoulaye (Aquino 46), Morcillo, Insua; Baena, Trashorras (Jozabed 74); Lica (Manucho 46), Beuno, Kakuta; Baptistao
Barcelona: Bravo; Dani Alves, Pique, Bartra, Mathieu; Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta (Rakitic 69); Neymar (Sandro 81) Munir (Pedro 59), Messi
Referee: Mateu Lahoz