Barcelona end the weekend on top

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Atletico Madrid conceded first place in the Primera Division with a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to 10-man Sevilla.

They could have reclaimed first place from Barcelona after the champions’ 2-1 win at Malaga on Saturday took them a point ahead of their rivals but came no closer to scoring than when Antoine Griezmann headed against the post in the 53rd minute, even after Sevilla’s Vitolo was dismissed via a second yellow card with around 30 minutes remaining.

Sevilla coach Unai Emery was also sent from the bench for protesting at the decision, but after goalkeeper Sergio Rico saved from Gabi with eight minutes remaining, his team held out for a valuable point.

While Barca and Atletico both have 48 points, the former have a game in hand on their rivals and a vastly superior goal difference.

Their title rivals Real Madrid wasted a fine opportunity to narrow the gap between them by drawing the third match of Zinedine Zidane’s reign as manager 1-1 at Real Betis.

In only the seventh minute, Alvaro Cejudo became the first Betis player to score in 638 minutes of competitive football when he volleyed into the top left corner from the edge of the area.

As the first half progressed, Real’s Pepe somehow headed wide from three yards, and Karim Benzema was denied what appeared a clear penalty when Petros brought him down inside the area.

They eventually equalised in the 71st minute, when Benzema tapped in from five yards.

Real remain in third place with 44 points, while Betis are 14th.

Gary Neville’s pursuit of a first league victory as Valencia manager continues after his team drew 1-1 at Deportivo La Coruna.

Poor defending allowed Lucas Perez to give the hosts a 27th-minute lead, which he was unfortunate not to extend when another effort was wrongly ruled offside in the second half.

In the third minute of stoppage time, Dani Parejo crossed to Alvaro Negredo, and the striker headed in the crucial equalising goal to take Valencia up to 11th and Depor down to ninth.

Athletic Bilbao had earlier recovered from conceding the opening goal to defeat Eibar 5-2.

The visitors took the lead in the fourth minute when Borja Baston scored the first of his two goals by finishing a counter attack.

Bilbao equalised through the reliable Aritz Aduriz just eight minutes later from Oscar de Marcos’ cross.

Sabin then headed them in front in the 27th minute, before Aymeric Laporte extended their lead in the 40th.

Baston scored his and Eibar’s second with a penalty five minutes into the second half, before Aduriz tapped in his second from close range after Mikel Balenziaga’s cross, and Mauro dos Santos scored an own goal with 10 minutes to play.

Eibar are in sixth place with 33 points, with Bilbao two places and two points behind them.

On Saturday, Lionel Messi scored a stunning winner as Barcelona returned to the top of the table with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over a spirited Malaga side.

Barca got off the the perfect start at La Rosaleda Stadium as Luis Suarez set up Munir El Haddadi – in for the injured Neymar – for the opener inside two minutes.

Having failed to punish Barca defensive errors in the first half, an impressive Malaga side finally levelled the game as Anor Juanpi’s 32nd-minute shot was helped past Claudio Bravo, courtesy of a Javier Mascherano deflection.

Luis Enrique clearly had words with his underperforming side at the break and it clearly had an effect as Lionel Messi, anonymous up until that point, volleyed home his 20th goal of the season on 51 minutes.

Antonio Sanabria scored a hat-trick as Sporting Gijon climbed out of the relegation zone with a 5-1 defeat of Real Sociedad which included an opening goal after just 15 seconds.

Carlos Carmona and Dani Ndi also got on the scoresheet for the home side, who had been defeated by Real Madrid by the same scoreline five days before.

Carlos Vela had reduced the deficit to 2-1 in the first half but his side were well beaten at Estadio Municipal El Molinon for a result which leaves La Real three points and four places above their opponents who have climbed up to 17th in the table.

Mateo Musacchio’s late header rescued Villarreal a 2-2 draw at Espanyol to maintain the Yellow Submarine’s hopes of a top-four finish.

The Argentina defender nodded home at the far post with two minutes of regular time to play which extended Villarreal’s unbeaten streak in the league to seven matches.

Felipe Caicedo and Gerard Moreno had fired Espanyol into a 2-1 lead, only for Musacchio to deny the hosts a first Primera Division victory since December 19.

Villarreal are now seven points clear of fifth-placed Celta Vigo, who fell to a shock 3-0 defeat at struggling Rayo Vallecano.

A first-half blitz blew Os Celticos away as goals from Miku, Tito and Jozabed gave Rayo a half-time lead that they never looked like losing.

Roberto Trashorras played in Miku to open the scoring after 21 minutes and five minutes later Rayo’s lead was doubled when Tito finished after more good work from Trashorras.

Trashorras was having a first half to remember and the 34-year-old teed up his third goal 10 minutes before the break which Jozabed duly headed home.

Vigo rallied after the break but Vallecano recorded their first win in 11 games in all competitions to move out of the drop zone.

Earlier, Granada also climbed out of the bottom three after winning a five-goal thriller at home to Getafe.

Sporting Gijon’s 5-1 victory over Real Sociedad on Friday temporarily pushed Granada into the relegation zone but Ruben Rochina’s powerful strike late on proved the difference.

The hosts had been looking comfortable following first-half goals from Fran Rico and Youssef El Arabi but they squandered their two-goal cushion within the space of four second-half minutes.

Stefan Scepovic and Moi Gomez had brought Getafe level out of nothing, but Rochina’s rising shot in the 77th minute helped ease the pressure on coach Jose Ramon Sandoval.

 

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