Barcelona close in on La Liga title

Madrid, May 6 (IANS) FC Barcelona moved to within touching distance of the La Liga title with a 4-2 home win over Betis.

Lionel Messi came off the bench with 35 minutes remaining to decide an entertaining game in which Betis had twice taken the lead thanks to goals from Dorlan Pabon and Ruben Garcia Sunday, reports Xinhua.

Alexis Sanchez and David Villa, who had missed several chances in the first half, pulled Barca back level and once Messi had scored a trademark free kick, the game swung decisively in Barca’s way. Messi sealed the win with a tap-in following a magnificent move involving Andres Ineista and Alexis.

Real Madrid’s 4-3 home win over Valladolid, which came with two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo Saturday, had meant that Barcelona could not celebrate the league title this weekend whatever the result at Camp Nou.

Meanwhile the Madrid game also served to confirm the divorce between Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho and the fans in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium as he was booed at several moments in the game.

A Marc Valiente own goal and a strike from Kaka sealed Madrid’s win while Ronaldo’s second was his 200th in a Real Madrid shirt.

Atletico Madrid were again below their best as they drew 0-0 away to Deportivo la Coruna to slip to eight points behind their neighbours. But at least the point served to assure their place in next season’s Champions League.

With fourth placed Real Sociedad not playing until Monday, Valencia recovered some ground in the battle for the final Champions League place with a thumping 4-0 thrashing over relegation threatened Osasuna. Roberto Soldado, Ricardo Costa, Ever Banega and Jonas completed the rout against an Osasuna that ended the game with just nine men after David Timor and Alejandro Arribas were sent off.

Sevilla still have a chance of European football after Unai Emery’s side got off to a flying start in their home game against Espanyol. A Joan Capdevila own goal opened the scoring before Coke and Alvaro Negredo had wrapped up the 3-0 win before the midway point of first half.

At the wrong end of the table, Zaragoza and Granada took important wins. A dreadful refereeing decision opened the door for Zaragoza after referee Teixeira Vitienes gave the home side a spot kick for handball after 26 minutes at home to Rayo Vallecano when the ball was not even close to the arm of Rayo defender Jordi Figueras.

Apono had no complaints as he fired Zaragoza ahead and the result was beyond doubt when Rodri added a second just after halftime and Apono’s second goal in injury time put the icing on the cake.

Meanwhile Odion Ighalo’s solitary goal gave Granada a win in their derby at home to a disappointing Malaga.

Mallorca are still stuck on the bottom of the table after a 1-1 draw at home to Levante. Tomar Hemed scored an early goal for Mallorca but Robert Acquafresca’s second goal of the campaign assured the points were shared in a hard-fought match.

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