Barcelona, Jan 12 (IANS) FC Barcelona produced their best display of the season to beat title rivals Atletico Madrid 3-1 in the Camp Nou Stadium and give a boost to under-fire coach Luis Enrique.
Barcelona Sunday fielded perhaps their strongest side against a side they have not beaten in six games and were rewarded with a dominant first half display in which the trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar worked to perfection, reports Xinhua.
Messi and Suarez combined to set up Neymar after just 12 minutes and Suarez doubled Barca’ s lead after a pass from a hyper-motivated Messi, who should have been penalised after controlling the ball with his arm.
With 33 minutes remaining, Messi committed a penalty against Jesus Games and Mario Mandzukic drew Atletico back into the game from the penalty spot.
The rest of the game saw some tough challenges flying in from Atletico’s defense, but the game was assured for Barcelona three minutes from time when Messi scored from close range to end a positive night for the Catalans who have cut out of a difficult week with their morale strengthened.
Sevilla moved into fourth place thanks to a 2-0 win away to Almeria, who have failed to win a home game all season. An evenly matched game was resolved in the second half thanks to goals from Carlos Iborra and Koke as Sevilla earned their reward for being more incisive in attack than the home side who controlled much of the ball, but failed to create clear chances.
Struggling Elche CF claimed a shock win away to Athletic Club Bilbao, who complained about a clear handball in Victor Rodriguez’s opener for the visitors, but failed to react and fell further behind to Fajr’s goal before Mikel San Jose gave his side some hope with 20 minutes left.
A game of two penalties saw Granada draw 1-1 at home to Real Sociedad with a result which may or may not save Joaquin Caparros’ job as Granada coach.
Saturday saw Real Madrid get back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 home win to Espanyol Saturday.
James Rodriguez opened the scoring when he finished off a move involving Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in the 12th minute.
Bale doubled Madrid’s lead with a magnificent free kick after 28 minutes and Nacho Fernandez scored his first ever goal for the club to seal the win 16 minutes from time and even though Fabio Coentrao was sent off just five minutes in the second half, Real Madrid hardly noticed the difference.
Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves saved a penalty from Celta winger Fabio Orellana in their 1-1 draw in Vigo. Rodrigo opened the scoring for Valencia following a terrible error from Celta goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez, Orellana finally made mends and ended Celta’ s goal drought of 727 minutes.
Meanwhile, Malaga and Villarreal drew 1-1 in Malaga’s La Rosaleda Stadium. Jonathan Dos Santos opened the scoring for the visitors in first half injury time, but his goal was cancelled out by Amrabat 15 minutes after the break and Eibar’ s season continued with a 2-1 home win against Getafe.