MADRID, Nov 25 (Reuters) Barcelona put a troubled few days behind them with a laboured 3-0 home win over lowly Recreativo Huelva in the Primera Liga.
Edmilson's criticisms of the lack of commitment of some of his team mates had dominated headlines before the game, and it was far from the reaction coach Frank Rijkaard had hoped for early on.
But goals two minutes apart from Argentina's Gabriel Milito and Bojan Krkic midway through the second half broke Recre's resistance. Lionel Messi added a penalty to round it off near the end yesterday.
Barca climbed to second in the standings level on 27 points with third-placed Villarreal, who host promoted Almeria on Sunday.
Leaders Real Madrid, on 28 points, visit another promoted club Real Murcia in yesterday's late game.
In the day's other game, Real Mallorca surprised Sevilla in the Sanchez Pizjuan winning 2-1 thanks to superb first-half goals from Argentine Ariel Ibagaza and Fernando Varela.
Sevilla pulled one back after the break from the head of Frederic Kanoute, but they were unable to complete the comeback despite Mallorca finishing with 10 men.
Mallorca moved up to eighth with 19 points, while Sevilla stayed 10th with 15.
WITHOUT RONALDINHO Barcelona were without Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho, who had pulled out of the squad earlier in the day due to what the club described as fatigue.
Andres Iniesta took his place attack, with Icelander Eidur Gudjohnsen making his first league start this season, in midfield.
But for all their possession Barca lacked a cutting edge and struggled to break down a well-organised Recre until Milito headed the opener from a corner in the 64th minute.
Two minutes later, Xavi's deep cross was laid back into the centre by Thierry Henry for 17-year-old substitute Krkic to score the second.
Recre had only scored once in their previous seven games and were unable to react.
They pulled down Messi for a penalty eight minutes from time, and the Argentina forward calmly slotted it away.
Reuters TB VP0502