Atletico Madrid defeated Elche to take a four-point lead over Barcelona, who ended their losing streak with a win over Athletic Bilbao. Real Madrid trail their city neighbours by six points, but have a game in hand as their match with Valladolid was postponed ahead of their Champions League semi-final with Bayern Munich this Wednesday.
Atletico Madrid defeated Elche 2-0 as tempers flared at Vicente Calderon. Joao Miranda headed Atleti in front ahead after David Villa had missed a 50th-minute penalty. Elche’s Cristian Sapunaru, whose foul on Villa led to the penalty being awarded, was shown a red card in the 90th minute for bringing down Diego Costa, who made sure of the result from the spot, leaving Diego Simeone’s side in pole position for the title.
Barcelona struck with two goals in three minutes to come from behind to beat Athletic Bilbao, ending a run of three straight defeats, but their 2-1 win was less than convincing. With Camp Nou less than half-full, Barca struggled against a well-organized and at times threatening Athletic side. Aritz Aduriz missed two good chances to put the Basques ahead before he finally did so in the 50th minute. Pedro Rodriguez equalized 20 minutes later and needed only two minutes more for Lionel Messi to give them the lead with a low free-kick.
Sevilla are the in-form side in La Liga and they warmed up for their Europa League semi-final against Valencia by brushing aside Andalusian rivals Granada to win 4-0 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. A Diego Mainz own goal gave the home side the lead on 15 minutes, but Lucas Alcaraz’s side survived the rest of the first half without further damage. They were undone after the break, however, as Kevin Gameiro, Stephane M’Bia and Vitolo all scored in the space of 17 minutes. The win sees Sevilla just three points behind fourth-placed Athletic, with the two meeting next weekend at San Mames.
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Real Sociedad gained their first win in four games as they defeated Espanyol 2-1 at Anoeta. The hosts fell behind to Jhon Cordoba’s thumping effort after 23 minutes, but Sergio Canales equalized with a deflected goal as the Basques turned up the heat on their opponents before Carlos Vela struck in stoppage-time to complete an amazing comeback for La Real. The result took Jagoba Arrasate’s side a step closer to ensuring a Europa League slot for next season while Espanyol remain in 10th place.