Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona won a dramatic showdown with Valencia 4-2 to cut the gap to LaLiga leaders Real Madrid to two points.
Barca were desperate for a victory to keep the pressure on Real after handing the initiative to their rivals following last weekend’s surprise defeat at Deportivo La Coruna.
But they were given a huge scare by Valencia, who took the lead through a header from on-loan Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala. However, the lead lasted just six minutes before Neymar’s quick throw-in caught the Valencia defence napping and Luis Suarez raced through to equalise.
A minute before half-time Mangala felled Suarez in the area to earn his marching orders and Messi tucked away the spot-kick.
But the drama did not end there as the 10 men immediately hauled themselves level, with Barca’s own player doing the damage.
This time Barcelona switched off at the back and Jose Luis Gaya squared for on-loan winger Munir El Haddadi to find the net, prompting a distinctly muted celebration.
But eight minutes after the break Messi fired the hosts back in front, wriggling past Aymen Abdennour before beating Diego Alves at his near post.
Barca wrapped up a vital victory two minutes from the end when Neymar burst down the left and picked out Andre Gomes for a tap-in.
Diego Godin, Antoine Griezmann and Koke fired fourth-placed Atletico Madrid to a crucial 3-1 victory over Sevilla.
Godin scored with a first-half header before Griezmann lashed in a stunning 25-yard free-kick after the break. Koke tapped into an empty net for the third as Atletico moved to within two points of their third-placed visitors.
Sevilla, seeking to close the gap on Real, only had Joaquin Correa’s consolation to show for their efforts and remain eight points adrift as their already faint title hopes suffered another blow.
The defeat capped a miserable week for Sevilla after they were dumped out of the Champions League by Leicester on Tuesday.
Sporting Gijon grabbed their first win in six matches with a 3-1 success over relegation rivals Granada.
After a goalless first half the vistors took the lead through Iceland defender Sverrir Ingi Ingason’s 51st-minute tap-in.
But nine minutes later Lacina Traore equalised after he was teed up by on-loan Real Madrid winger Burgui.
In the 64th-minute Sporting took the lead when Jean-Sylvain Babin headed in Sergio Alvarez’s corner, and three minutes later Carlos Carmona thumped in the third.
The hosts could even afford to miss an 82nd-minute penalty, Guillermo Ochoa saving Traore’s effort, and climb above Granada into 18th.
A solitary goal from Iago Aspas was enough to earn Celta Vigo a 1-0 win at Deportivo.
The former Liverpool forward tapped in a cross from Claudio Beauvue with 16 minutes remaining.
In Sunday’s early kick-off lowly Leganes and Malaga fought out a goalless draw.
Real Madrid moved clear of Barcelona at the top with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Karim Benzema put the visitors in front after being set up by Cristiano Ronaldo on 24 minutes, but Athletic, who had previously lost only once at home all season, equalised through Aritz Aduriz just after the hour.
Real, though, were soon back in the lead when Casemiro tapped in following a corner in the 68th minute as Zinedine Zidane’s men kept the pressure up on rivals Barca.
Eibar drew 1-1 at home to Espanyol in Saturday’s early kick-off. Kike put the hosts ahead but Jose Manuel Jurado secured a point for the visitors.
Deyverson scored the only goal just before half-time as Alaves beat Real Sociedad 1-0 at Mendizorroza.
First-half goals from Rafa Navarro and Ruben Castro were enough to earn Real Betis a 2-0 home win over bottom club Osasuna.
Osasuna, who have won only once in the league this season, were behind as early as the fourth minute, and goalscorer Navarro turned provider for the second on 28 minutes.
Las Palmas ended 10-man Villarreal’s winning run thanks to Kevin Prince Boateng’s strike in a 1-0 success on Friday night.
Italy’s Serie A
Juan Cuadrado’s seventh-minute goal helped Juventus preserve their dominant lead at the top of the Serie A table while ending Sampdoria‘s unbeaten run.
Chelsea loanee Cuadrado raced in behind the Samp back line and nodded in a sumptuous Kwadwo Asamoah cross, before Paulo Dybala limped off injured.
The 1-0 victory at the Marassi means Juve are once again eight points clear of Roma, who beat Sassuolo later on Sunday, while Napoli‘s earlier triumph over Empoli leaves them 10 points off the title pace.
Samp, who had won five and drawn two of their last seven games, offered little attacking threat but proved hard to break down, and they head into the international break occupying a comfortable ninth-place berth in the league.
The late game saw Roma respond to Juve’s result and soothe their Europa League hangover by downing Sassuolo 3-1 in the capital.
Gregoire Defrel gave the lowly northerners a surprise ninth-minute lead but Leandro Paredes soon restored parity and Mohamed Salah struck in first-half stoppage time to turn the game around. Midway through the second period, Bosnian substitute Edin Dzeko reached 21 goals for the 2016-17 campaign.
In the lunchtime kick-off, Napoli had resisted a late fightback from lowly Empoli to win 3-2.
Lorenzo Insigne followed up his brace against Crotone with another double, the Italy striker opening the scoring and then converting a penalty after Dries Mertens had notched in spectacular style to reach 20 league goals. The Belgian had earlier seen his spot-kick saved by Lukasz Skorupski.
Empoli then rallied, with Omar El Kaddouri spoiling the clean sheet before veteran substitute Massimo Maccarone scored a late penalty.
Lazio had an opportunity to close the gap on third when they visited Cagliari but the Sardinians held them to a goalless draw.
Atalanta are also targeting a lofty finishing position and had no such worries in front of goal when they trounced basement boys Pescara 3-0 in Bergamo.
Argentinian forward Alejandro Gomez both opened and closed the scoring, first converting Hans Hateboer’s 13th-minute assist and then rubber-stamping the outcome in the third minute of second-half stoppage time, as Alberto Grassi had notched in between times for the sixth-placed side.
Fiorentina needed a last-gasp goal from Nikola Kalinic at Crotone to record a 1-0 victory that keeps their dream of securing European football alive.
Elsewhere, Bologna banished any lingering fears of relegation by pulling 19 points clear of the drop zone with a 4-1 home win over Chievo.
The Rossoblu had to recover from behind to claim their best result since December as Lucas Castro had put the visiting Flying Donkeys ahead five minutes before half-time.
When play resumed, Bologna let rip, with Simone Verdi equalising before Blerim Dzemaili bagged a brace, leaving substitute Federico Di Francesco to add the gloss.
Palermo were pushed closer to the dreaded drop by Udinese, who beat them by the same scoreline at the Dacia Arena.
Again the visitors took the lead, with Roland Sallai giving the 18th-placed club a promising start, but Cyril Thereau, Duvan Zapata, Rodrigo de Paul and Jakub Jankto condemned the Sicilians, who lost Alessandro Diamanti to a red card, to their 20th defeat of the season.
The gap to safety stands at eight points.
AC Milan are up to sixth in the table after a 1-0 home win over Genoa on Saturday night.
Matias Fernandez scored the only goal – his first for Milan – on 33 minutes after being played in by Gianluca Lapadula.
Genoa remain 16th but well clear of any relegation trouble with a 14-point cushion over 18th-placed Palermo.
Torino and Inter played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in a game where both sides left before having to settle for a point apiece.
Geoffrey Kondogbia gave Inter a 27th-minute lead before Daniele Baselli (33) and Afriyie Acquah (59) turned things round in the home side’s favour.
But again the lead was short-lived, with Antonio Candreva levelling the scores on 62 minutes.
Thomas Muller ended his Bundesliga scoring drought to give champions Bayern Munich a 1-0 win at Borussia Monchengladbach.
Muller’s 63rd-minute strike extended Bayern’s commanding lead at the top of the league to 13 points.
Closest challengers RB Leipzig lost 3-0 at Werder Bremen on Saturday to boost Bayern ahead of their trip to Monchengladbach.
But Bayern passed up several opportunities to open the scoring in a first half they dominated.
Poland striker Robert Lewandowski was the major culprit as the home goal led a charmed life.
Arjen Robben had also clattered the angle of post and crossbar, with Lewandowski’s follow-up header superbly stopped by Yann Sommer.
But Bayern were not to be denied and Muller latched on to Thiago Alcantara’s lofted pass to score in clinical style.
It was only Muller’s second league goal this season, his previous effort coming against Wolfsburg nine games ago in December.
Monchengladbach goalkeeper Sommer was in outstanding form and his defiance set up an exciting finish.
Substitute Thorgan Hazard tested Manuel Neuer at his near post and Tobias Strobl headed over from six yards in the final 15 minutes, but Bayern held firm for a 17th win in 19 games in all competitions.
Schalke claimed only their second away win of the season with a 1-0 victory at Mainz.
Full-back Sead Kolasinac, playing with a protective mask over a broken nose, drilled home the 50th-minute winner after exchanging passes with Guido Burgstaller.
Ralf Fahrmann made first-half stops in quick succession from Bojan Krkic and Danny Latza, but the Schalke goalkeeper had little to do after the break as the visitors took control.
Nabil Bentaleb wasted a glorious late chance to double Schalke’s lead before goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, venturing forward at a free-kick, headed Mainz’s final chance wide in stoppage time.
RB Leipzig missed the opportunity to close the gap on Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich after suffering a 3-0 defeat at Werder Bremen.
With Bayern not in action until Sunday, second-placed Leipzig could have reduced the deficit to seven points but Zlatko Junuzovic put Bremen ahead before Florian Grillitsch and Florian Kainz wrapped up the victory.
The result leaves Leipzig with just one point from their last three league games and coach Ralph Hasenhuttl may now be looking down rather than up the table after third-placed Borussia Dortmund closed to within three points of his side by beating Ingolstadt on Friday night.
Hoffenheim are another side hoping to catch Leipzig as the race for Champions League qualification hots up, and they improved their chances with a 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen.
Sandro Wagner claimed the only goal of the game, tapping in from close range with 62 minutes played.
Mid-table Leverkusen, who exited the Champions League in midweek, are now without a win in four league games.
Anthony Modeste scored a hat-trick as fifth-placed Hertha Berlin suffered a setback with a 4-2 loss at Cologne.
Japan forward Yuya Osako fired the hosts ahead early on before Modeste’s quick-fire double gave Peter Stoger’s men a three-goal half-time lead.
Hertha captain Vedad Ibisevic reduced the deficit from the penalty spot but Modeste then claimed his third, prior to John Brooks pulling another one back.
Darmstadt‘s slim chances of survival took another blow as they lost 1-0 at Wolfsburg.
Mario Gomez’s header in first-half stoppage time proved decisive to moving the hosts away from the bottom three.
The away side were unable to salvage anything in the second half, leaving them 14 points from safety.
Augsburg came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw at home to Freiburg.
Florian Niederlechner’s penalty gave the visitors the lead after Augsburg goalkeeper Marwin Hitz brought down Mike Frantz.
Greece defender Kostas Stafylidis earned Augsburg a share of the spoils, heading in Georg Teigl’s cross seven minutes before the break.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 30th Borussia Dortmund goal of the season ensured his below-pair side defeated Ingolstadt 1-0 at Signal Iduna Park on Friday night.
Dortmund’s unbeaten run at home this season was maintained as Aubameyang applied a first-time finish to Marcel Schmelzer’s cross, although they can consider themselves fortunate they were able to claim all three points against their struggling opponents.
In the day’s late kick-off, Eintracht Frankfurt were held to a goalless draw by struggling Hamburg.
The result means Frankfurt drop to seventh, while Hamburg remain in 16th place.
France’s Ligue 1
Kylien Mbappe signed off on a memorable week in style with two goals in Ligue 1 leaders Monaco‘s 3-0 win at Caen.
The 18-year-old scored on Wednesday as Monaco beat Manchester City to reach the last eight of the Champions League.
Mbappe was then called up to the France squad for their World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg and a friendly against Spain later this month.
Monaco took a 13th-minute lead when Mbappe drilled home after outfoxing two defenders. Fabinho doubled the lead from the penalty spot after 49 minutes when Mbappe was brought down by Damien Da Silva.
Mbappe wrapped up Monaco’s fourth successive league win nine minutes from time with a bullet header.
It was his 17th goal of the season and his 11th in the last nine games.
Paris St Germain remain three points behind Monaco after their 2-1 home victory over Lyon.
Alexandre Lacazette’s 28th goal of the season gave Lyon a sixth-minute lead, the France forward nodding home at the back post after Rafael had flicked on Mathieu Valbuena’s corner.
But Javier Pastore turned the game PSG’s way before half-time with two wonderful assists.
PSG levelled after 34 minutes when Pastore played a one-two with Angel Di Maria and crossed for Adrien Rabiot to stroke home his third goal of the season.
Six minutes later Pastore surged down the left to set up Julien Draxler’s fourth goal since the Germany midfielder joined from Wolfsburg in January.
Lyon were lethargic throughout the second period and PSG’s margin of victory should have been greater.
Edinson Cavani fired over from another Pastore pass and Di Maria and substitute Blaise Matuidi also shot wide with the goal at their mercy. Cavani’s frustrating evening continued when he was unable to get on the end of a Lucas Moura cross.
Jordan Veretout’s late goal gave St Etienne their first win in seven games at Dijon, who remain just outside the relegation zone in 17th place.
Veretout made it 1-0 13 minutes from time to take seventh-placed St Etienne within two points of Marseille and Bordeaux.
Nice missed the chance to leapfrog Paris St Germain into second place in Ligue 1 as they were held 1-1 at Nantes.
Lucien Favre’s side played out a second successive draw and had to come from behind to secure a point, with Jean Michael Seri cancelling out Nantes striker Emiliano Sala’s first-half opener.
Leaders Monaco and PSG both play on Sunday – at Caen and against Lyon at home respectively – and Nice could have moved to within two points of top spot with victory.
Nantes took a 22nd-minute lead through Sala’s emphatic finish from inside the penalty area, but Ivory Coast international Seri equalised via an unstoppable shot into the top corner six minutes later.
Nantes, who have lost only one of their last seven matches, looked the more likely to snatch a winner after the break and went close through Prejuce Nakoulma, Sala and Diego Carlos’ header.
Bordeaux moved level on points with fifth-placed Marseille after a comprehensive 5-1 home win against Montpellier.
Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side bounced back from last week’s defeat at leaders Monaco to secure their seventh home league win of the season.
Diego Rolan, Younousse Sankhare and Valentin Vada’s penalty, after Montpellier defender Hilton had handled, put Bordeaux 3-0 up inside 32 minutes.
Ryad Boudebouz pulled one back for Montpellier from the penalty spot early in the second half after Younousse Sankhare’s handball, but Rolan struck his second to make it 4-1.
Montpellier defender Daniel Congre was shown a straight red card late on for his tackle on Adam Ounas and Malcom added a fifth in time added on.
Angers put last week’s defeat at Marseille behind them to register their fifth win in six league games with a 3-0 home victory over Guingamp.
Guingamp hit the crossbar through Lucas Deaux’s first-half header, but second-half goals from Jonathan Bamba and Thomas Mangani put Angers in control and Famara Diedhiou sealed them the points with a late third.
Arnold Mvuemba scored a stoppage-time winner as bottom club Lorient hit back from two goals down to win 3-2 at relegation rivals Nancy and keep their survival hopes alive.
Faitout Maouassa opened the scoring and Issiar Dia added a second from the penalty spot for Nancy just before the break after Steven Moreira had handled.
But Lorient hit back after the interval through Benjamin Moukandjo and levelled through Wesley Lautoa in the 86th minute before Mvuemba’s last-gasp winner.
Toulouse midfielder Alexis Blin was sent off in the second half for two yellow-card offences as his side were held to a goalless draw at home by mid-table rivals Rennes in the day’s other fixture.
An extraordinary save from Yohann Pele prevented Lille from defeating Marseille as they drew 0-0 on Friday night.
With six minutes to go Portugal international Eder looked set to give the visitors the lead when he powerfully nodded towards goal from six yards out, but Pele somehow reacted in time to push the ball on to the crossbar.
Lille stopper Vincent Enyeama applauded the save from the other end, even though it meant the spoils were shared.
Bastia remain in the relegation zone following a 1-0 loss at Metz.
The hosts were victims of their own downfall as Gilles Cioni scored an own goal two minutes into the second half to settle the contest.
Feyenoord came from behind to earn a valuable 2-1 victory at Heerenveen as they close in on their first Eredivisie title in 18 years.
It did not start well for the league leaders, though. After full-back Miquel Nelom brought down Reza Ghoochannejhad in the penalty area, the Iranian picked himself up to dispatch a spot-kick into the bottom corner.
Nicolai Jorgensen, who scored a hat-trick against AZ Alkmaar last week, notched his 22nd goal of the season to level the scores before Tonny Vilhena rifled in a half-volley to take the spoils 20 minutes from time.
Second-placed Ajax fell further off the pace after they were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at relegation-threatened Excelsior.
The hosts took the lead on 26 minutes when Kenny Tete diverted Mike van Duinen’s strike into his own net following a mix-up in the Ajax defence, before Justin Kluivert tapped in Hakim Ziyech’s low cross to equalise shortly afterwards.
AZ Alkmaar kept their hunt for European football alive with a comprehensive 4-0 win against struggling ADO Den Haag.
Dabney dos Santos grabbed a brace within the first 13 minutes of the match before Joris van Overeem calmly chipped over Robert Zwinkels for AZ’s third within the first 34 minutes of the match.
Fred Friday smashed in a fourth from close range to seal an emphatic victory.
Two goals in the final seven minutes helped PEC Zwolle to a 3-1 success over bottom club Go Ahead Eagles.
Liverpool loanee Pedro Chirivella opened the scoring on three minutes for the Eagles but Queensy Menig levelled almost immediately after rounding the goalkeeper to score from a tight angle.
The match looked to be heading for a draw before a strike from Django Warmerdam and a Bram van Polen penalty sealed all three points for the visitors.
PSV Eindhoven beat Vitesse 1-0 at Philips Stadion to close the gap on second placed Ajax to a point and move five behind Eredivisie leaders Feyenoord.
Siem de Jong broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half when he crashed the ball in after a clever cut-back from Andres Guardado following a well-worked corner.
PSV substitute Jurgen Locadia saw a late effort bounce back off the post before Marco van Ginkel’s shot was scrambled off the line by the Vitesse keeper as Phillip Cocu’s men remained within striking distance of the top two.
Utrecht kept up their push for a top-four finish as they ran out 3-0 winners at NEC Nijmegen.
Zakaria Labyad’s long-range effort fired the visitors in front on 28 minutes.
Midfielder Yassin Ayoub added a second seven minutes before half-time and French forward Sebastien Haller wrapped things up just after the hour.
Sparta Rotterdam beat Heracles Almelo 3-1 with a brace from Martin Pusic.
Midfielder Ryan Sanusi put the home side ahead on 29 minutes with Austrian frontman Pusic doubling the lead in the 53rd minute when he nodded in a free-kick at the far post.
Another flying header from the on-loan Midtjylland forward made it 3-0 with 17 minutes left before Joey Pelupessy scored a late consolation for the visitors.
Groningen and Willem II played out a 1-1 draw at the Euroborg.
Ruben Jenssen gave the home side the lead four minutes into the second half, but Willem II earned a point when on-loan Watford forward Obbi Oulare headed an equaliser in the 54th minute.
Fredrik Jensen scored two first-half goals to leave Roda deep in relegation trouble after a 3-0 loss to Twente on Friday night.