Atlético sink Valencia to close in on title

Club Atlético de Madrid ended with ten men but nevertheless earned a 1-0 win at Valencia CF to stay four points clear of FC Barcelona who came from two goals down to defeat Villarreal CF.

Raúl García celebrates scoring Atlético's winner
Raúl García celebrates scoring Atlético's winner ©Getty Images

Club Atlético de Madrid took another big step towards their first Liga title since 1995/96 by prevailing 1-0 at Valencia CF to maintain their four-point advantage over FC Barcelona, who were forced to dig deep at Villarreal CF.

David Villa rifled just wide and Filipe Luís had a goalbound effort blocked before Raúl García made the Atlético breakthrough two minutes before the interval, beating home goalkeeper Vicente Guaita to Gabi's pass and finding the net. Guaita twice denied Diego Costa when the forward went clean through after the interval, but Diego Simeone's men claimed a ninth successive win despite losing Juanfran to a red card in added time.

The win lifted the Rojiblancos six points clear of Real Madrid CF, who downed CA Osasuna 4-0 yesterday, before Barcelona later cut their lead by winning 3-2 at Villarreal despite falling two goals behind. Efforts from Cani and Manuel Trigueros Muñoz looked to have dealt a hammer blow to Barça's title chances, but own goals from Gabriel Armando de Abreu and Mateo Musacchio brought things level before Lionel Messi's winner seven minutes from time.

Athletic Club took a huge step towards securing the final UEFA Champions League spot, as the fourth-placed side defeated nearest rivals Sevilla FC 3-1 to pull six points clear of their rivals, Markel Susaeta, Iker Muniain and Ander Herrera getting the goals.

Elsewhere, 18th-placed UD Almería boosted their hopes of avoiding the drop with a 2-1 win at RCD Espanyol, Suso notching the winner. The hosts ended the game with nine men after Christian Stuani and Javi López were both dismissed.