FC Barcelona stretched their lead at the top of Liga to a commanding nine points after overcoming an early scare to defeat second-placed Club Atlético de Madrid 4-1 at the Camp Nou.
As the league's two top scorers came head to head in the shape of Lionel Messi and Falcao, it was Atlético's Columbian marksman who upstaged his Argentinian counterpart in the early stages, hitting the post before producing a sublime chipped finish to put the visitors ahead.
Tito Vilanova's men found it tough going to break down the Rojiblancos, and it took Adriano's dipping, swerving effort to bring things level, before Sergio Busquets turned in from close range before the interval. Inevitably, Messi struck after the break, driving low into the bottom corner from outside the area, before a late chip meant that the forward has now struck twice in his last six Liga outings.
Real Madrid CF missed the chance to advance their own cause as they conceded a late equaliser in their 2-2 home draw with RCD Espanyol. Sergio García put the visitors ahead on the counterattack with 31 minutes gone, but the Merengues looked to have turned things around after Cristiano Ronaldo levelled on the stroke of half-time and Fábio Coentrão finished a fine move shortly after the break. Albín had other ideas, though, and finished from close to goal two minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Levante UD moved up to fifth, a point shy of Málaga CF, after Rubén García secured them a 1-0 triumph at Real Zaragoza, and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid prevailed by the same scoreline at Valencia CF.
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