Madrid, Feb 17: A Leo Messi penalty close to the end of the first half gave Liga Santander leaders Barcelona a 1-0 win at home to Valladolid on Saturday night.
The win keeps Barca 8 points ahead of Atletico Madrid and opens their lead to 9 points over Real Madrid, who play at home to Girona on Sunday lunchtime. Messi was able to start the game after a recent thigh injury, although Luis Suarez began the game on the bench ahead of next week's return to Champions League action.
Barca were again below their best against the well-organized rival, but Messi did waste a chance to double their lead in the closing minutes when his second penalty of the match was saved by Valladolid keeper Jordi Masip, who began his career with Barca. Antoine Griezmann kept Atletico Madrid's title hopes alive with a 1-0 win away to Rayo Vallecano with the only goal of the game just two days after Atletico coach Diego Simeone extended his contract with the club until 2022.
Rayo deserved more from a game which was decided by Griezmann's deflected shot, but the defeat condemns them to another week in the relegation zone. Meanwhile Diego Costa was able to return to action for Atletico after over two months out through injury.
Celta Vigo remain deep in trouble after a 4-1 loss at home to Levante, who considerably eased their own relegation worries with the win.
Jose Luis Morales scored twice, while right back Coke also got on the scoresheet to put Levante 3-0 up before Brais Mendez's late penalty for Celta, although there was still time for Borja Mayoral to net a 4th for Levante to leave Celta coach Miguel Cardoso on the verge of the sack.
Real Sociedad are knocking on the door of Europe after two goals from Mikel Oyarzabal inspired them to a 3-0 win at home to Leganes.
Oyarzabal opened the scoring in the 50th minute with a neat header for his 7th league goal of the season, adding his 8th just 9 minutes later, before Willian Jose rounded off a comfortable win in the 75th minute.
Friday night saw Eibar striker Charles score twice to give his side a point at home to Getafe, who had led 2-0 through Javier Mata and Dimitri Foulquier. A win would have lifted Getafe into fourth place in the league above Sevilla, who play away to Villarreal on Sunday. (UNI)