MADRID (AFP) Champions Barcelona will start 2010 as leaders of the Spanish top-flight after a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty sealed a hard-fought 1-0 derby win over Espanyol at Camp Nou on Saturday. It was Barcelonas final league game in what has been an unforgettable 2009 and the victory guarantees top spot over the festive period with second-placed Real Madrid eight points behind with two games in hand. Barca now head to the FIFA World Club Championship in Abu Dhabi, with their first match on Wednesday, in high spirits with all the pressure on Real to respond in Saturdays late match at Valencia. Swede Ibrahimovic made it 11 league goals for the season with an unstoppable penalty on 39 minutes although Espanyol will feel aggrieved at the spot-kick which was awarded for a shirt-tug on Xavi. Before kick-off Barcas Argentine Lionel Messi was presented with his Ballon DOr trophy by his mother drawing applause from the home crowd and his team-mates. Messi was unfit to play due to an ankle injury so Pedro Rodriguez began in his place. Espanyol had lost their last three league matches without scoring a goal and has conceded ten so it looked bleak. However, the visitors almost scored in the opening seconds of the game with a long ball down the middle poorly defended as it came through to Ferran Coro who sliced his shot wide. Barca should have scored on 17 minutes when Pedro intercepted a pass and the ball sat up perfectly to be hit but he scuffed his volley wide. Two minutes later the lively Ibrahimovic produced a great flicked pass to open up Espanyol but Thierry Henrys side-footed shot lacked power. Barca got the breakthrough just before the interval although the penalty decision was fortunate. A lofted ball caught Jose Baena out of position and the midfielder tugged lightly on Xavis shirt persuading the Spain star to go down appealing for a penalty which was duly given. Ibrahimovic was the paragon of coolness smacking the spot-kick into the corner to move level with Valencias David Villa at the top of goal-scoring charts on 11. At the start of the second half Barca were out of sorts and Yaya Toure had to make a crucial clearance after Gerard Pique had been caught in possession. Barca lost control of the match and were desperate to get a second goal while Espanyol were growing in confidence. Ibrahimovic and Dani Alves had chances to score the second but had to cling on to maintain their perfect home record of seven wins. Real have a tough trip to Valencia, just three points below in third, later on Saturday. Madrid will be without Cristiano Ronaldo through suspension and Kaka through injury and come up against a Valencia side that has lost just once in the league this season. It is a special game for Spanish international defender Raul Albiol who returns to Valencia for the first time since they sold him to Real for 15 million euros in the summer. Earlier, Athletic Bilbao moved to within four points of the top four with a 2-1 win away at Real Zaragoza. A towering header from 20-year-old defender Mikel San Jose, on loan from Liverpool, put Bilbao ahead on the hour before Markel Susaeta scored what proved a vital second goal nine minutes from time. The Basque club, who during last season were at times battling the drop, move up one position to seventh. Zaragoza lie fourth from bottom two points above the relegation zone and coach Marcelino is clinging to his job.