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Atlético maintain title charge with narrow win

Liga leaders Club Atlético de Madrid remain one point clear of FC Barcelona and three points ahead of city rivals Real Madrid CF after the trio all enjoyed victories on Saturday.

Liga: 5 April ©Getty Images

Liga leaders Club Atlético de Madrid remain one point clear of FC Barcelona and three points ahead of city rivals Real Madrid CF after the trio all enjoyed victories on Saturday.

The narrowest of margins separated Atlético from visiting Villarreal CF. Raúl García scored the only goal of the game early in the first half, meeting a Koke corner with an excellent header to propel Los Rojiblancos to a 17th home win as they chase a first title since 1996.

Barcelona's success was more comprehensive, as they inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Real Betis Balompié at Camp Nou. Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot – curiously, the method of each of his four previous Liga goals. The teams then traded strikes midway through the second half as Rubén Castro responded to Jordi Figueras' own goal, before Messi had the final say. The Argentinian international this time saw his penalty saved, but he gobbled up the rebound to secure the three points and his 100th double for the Blaugrana.

The pressure was on Real Madrid to match their title rivals in a tricky trip to Real Sociedad de Fútbol, but they were unbowed despite a tough first half and came out 4-0 winners. 

Fittingly, it was ex-La Real player Asier Illaramendi that knocked in to break the deadlock just before half-time. Gareth Bale drilled into the bottom-left corner to make it two, before Pepe swept in Sergio Ramos' headed knock-down and Álvaro Morata raced clear to finish as Madrid struck twice in three minutes in a rousing climax.