Barcelona’s lead vanishes in La Liga

Madrid, April 18 (IANS) FC Barcelona saw their lead at the top of the La Liga disappear as they were beaten 1-2 at home by Valencia in the Camp Nou Stadium in the 33rd round games of the Spanish football season.

An own goal by Ivan Rakitic and a strike by Santi Mina on the stroke of half-time put Valencia 2-0 up on Sunday and although Lionel Messi’s 500th goal brought Barcelona back into the game with 63 minutes, a series of bad misses by strikers coupled with a magnificent display by Valencia keeper Diego Alves kept them at bay until the final whistle, reports Xinhua.

Barcelona have taken just one point from four games and their 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid has evaporated to leave them top of the table only on goal difference.

Atletico Madrid fulfilled their part of the bargain as they brushed past Granada 3-0 in the Vicente Calderon with goals from Koke, Fernando Torres and Angel Correa.

Diego Simeone’s side showed no ill effects from their efforts in the European Champions League clash against Barcelona on Wednesday night and are now level on points at the top of the table.

Saturday saw Real Madrid continue their run of form with a 5-1 win away against bottom of the table Getafe, for whom Juan Eduardo Esnaider made his debut as coach.

Goals from Alfred N’Diaye and Pablo Hernandez saw Betis take a valuable point away against Celta Vigo, while Eibar ended an eight-game winless run when they came back after conceding an early goal to David Zurutuza to win the Basque derby at home to Real Sociedad.

Sergi Enrich leveled the scores before half-time before Gonzalo Escalante scored just before the hour the goal which assures Eibar will remain in the top flight for a third consecutive season.

Sporting Gijon earned a battling point away to Las Palmas, but it remains whether Jony’s goal will be enough to save his side, who are still in deep trouble.

Celta’s slip up allowed Athletic Club Bilbao to move into fifth place thanks to a 1-0 win away to Malaga. Athletic overcame tired legs following Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final away against Sevilla and a second half goal from Raul Garcia coupled with a series of fine saves from Gorka Iraizoz was enough to take the three points back to Bilbao.

Thursday’s game did take a toll on Sevilla though as they struggled to a 1-1 draw at home to Deportivo la Coruna.

Vicente Iborra gave Sevilla the lead after 21 minutes, but Oriol Riera’s reply with 10 minutes left saw a share of the points and probably secures Deportivo’s top flight future for next season.

Rayo Vallecano also took a big step towards safety as goals from Javi Guerra and Miku gave them a narrow 2-1 win over Villarreal for whom Adrian Lopez scored.

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