A solitary goal from Lionel Messi 13 minutes from time was enough for FC Barcelona to defeat Valencia CF and stretch their lead at the top to ten points.
Messi was denied on at least two occasions in the first half, while Vicente Guaita produced a fine reaction save to thwart David Villa on his first return to Mestalla. Valencia also played their part in an open game but eventually succumbed to Messi's 27th league goal of the campaign, the No10 turning in Adriano's cut-back despite the best efforts of Guaita to keep it out.
One place below Valencia, Villarreal CF consolidated their grip on fourth spot with a 1-0 home win against Hércules CF, Giuseppe Rossi scoring midway through the first half. Elsewhere, Athletic Club were prevented from leapfrogging RCD Espanyol into fifth by a 2-1 loss at Real Zaragoza, who move out of the relegation zone and into 15th as a result.
The other three matches, meanwhile, ended in draws. Getafe CF against Club Atlético de Madrid and Real Sociedad de Fútbol versus Levante UD finished 1-1, while there was no score between CA Osasuna and RC Deportivo La Coruña.
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