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Atletico keep pace as Barcelona near La Liga title



Atletico keep pace as Barcelona near La Liga title

Leaders Barcelona moved closer to retaining their La Liga crown with a lacklustre 2-0 away win over 10-man Real Betis thanks to goals from Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid kept pace as substitute Antoine Griezmann fired them to a 1-0 home win over struggling Rayo Vallecano, while Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale scored in a 1-0 victory at Real Sociedad that leaves them still a point behind.

Barcelona remain at the summit on 85 points, level with Atletico but having a superior head-to-head record, while Real are third with 84 points and two games of the season left.

Betis had centre-back Heiko Westermann sent off in the 35th minute for a second booking and Ivan Rakitic pounced on a defensive mishap to put Barca five minutes after the break.

Read also: Gareth Bale keeps Real Madrid’s title hopes burning

Luis Suarez then scored his 35th goal of the La Liga season to finish Betis off in the 81st, meaning Barca can guarantee a 24th league title with wins at home to Espanyol and away to Granada.

Barca manager Luis Enrique reacted angrily to suggestions his team had underperformed against Betis.

“What’s the problem, if you don’t win 8-0 does it not count?” he told a news conference.”

Bale, who scored twice as Madrid came from two goals down to win 3-2 at Rayo Vallecano last weekend, again delivered when it mattered, nodding in Lucas Vazquez’s cross in the 80th minute.

It was the Welshman’s ninth headed goal in the league this season, more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues, and earned Madrid the points despite a frustrating afternoon against the side who beat Barcelona earlier this month.


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