Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has said there was no room for error in their Sunday night clash against Real Betis after Atletico Madrid lost on Saturday.
Diego Simeone's side slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Athletic Bilbao and La Balugrana took full advantage to win 4-1 away at the Estadio Benito Villamarin to move 10 points clear of their rivals.
Messi netted a that trick as Ernesto Valverde's side took a huge step towards defending their title.
"After Atletico's defeat, we knew we could not falter.
"It was a very important victory today.
"Goals allow us to win games, and we took full advantage of our chances oda."
Messi was applauded off the pitch at the end, after a spectacular third goal in the closing stages, and he thanked the home support for the gesture.
"I am very grateful. It has never happened to me before."