Narrow away wins for Barcelona, Real Madrid

Madrid, Feb 8 (IANS) Spanish football club Barcelona remain three points clear at the top of La Liga following the 23rd round of matches.

An own goal from Levante defender David Navarro and an injury time goal from Luis Suarez allowed FC Barcelona take three points despite a below par display away to bottom of the table Levante on Sunday, reports Xinhua.

Barcelona had the ball in the back of the net as early as the second minute but Lionel Messi’s strike from an Iniesta pass was wrongly ruled out for offside. However, they had a stroke of good fortune when Navarro deflected Jordi Alba’s cross into his own net midway through the half.

The home side reacted and were unlucky when Luis Morales’ shot hit the post and it was not until the last move of the game that Barcelona assured the points when Suarez netted his 20th league goal of the campaign on the break as Levante pressed for an equaliser.

A wonderful goal from Luka Modric 10 minutes from time gave Real Madrid a win as they also struggled to achieve away to a feisty Granada.

Karim Benzema’s sixth goal in six games put Madrid ahead but El Arabi equalised on the hour after referee Gil Manzano had got in the way of a Madrid move. But Modric’s sumptuous shot from outside the area saved the day for Zidane and kept his side in the title hunt.

Sunday also saw Celta and Sevilla draw 1-1 at the Balaidos Stadium, three days after Sevilla defeated Celta 4-0 in the King’s Cup.

Daniel Carrico put Sevilla ahead just before the break, 20 minutes after the visitors had been left with 10-men after Federico Fazio had been sent off in his first game after returning to the club after a year and half with Tottenham Hotspurs.

Sevilla hung on well but Claudio Beauveu equalised for Celta with 25 minutes remaining.

Gary Neville’s job at Valencia hangs by a threat after his side lost 0-1 away to Betis, who took the points thanks to a Ruben Castro goal. Valencia defender Jose Gaya, who entered the game as a 44th minute substitute was sent off six minutes from time and Neville is yet to win any of his nine league games in-charge.

On Saturday, Fernando Torres scored his 100th goal for Atletico Madrid on Saturday at the end of a hard-fought win 3-1 at home to Eibar, who had taken the lead through Augustin Mauri at the start of the second half.

Atletico turned the score around with headed goals from central defenders Jose Gimenez and Saul Niguez before Torres netted his historic goal in the first minute of injury time.

Sixth placed Athletic Club Bilbao drew 0-0 at home to Villarreal in a tense and bad tempered affair not helped by pouring rain at the San Mames Stadium.

Athletic saw striker Inaki Williams sent off in the second half and he will miss next weekend’s trip to play Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu while the home side had goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz to thank for two good saves to deny visiting striker Roberto Soldado.

Rayo Vallecano took a step towards avoiding relegation with a 2-0 win at home to fellow strugglers, Las Palmas. Miku’s third goal in three games and Bebe’s 74th minute goal sealed the points on a day when Rayo’s notoriously porous defence stood firm.

Meanwhile, Sporting Gijon and Deportivo La Coruna drew 1-1.

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