Barcelona and Real Madrid yield no ground in fight for Spanish crown
There was no change on Saturday at the top of Spain's La Liga after leaders Barcelona and second-placed Real Madrid both won. An enthralling run-in is on the cards.
There are three games to go in the Spanish title race. Barcelona, the leaders, are fighting off the challenge of Real Madrid. It's the classic scenario.
Barcelona are two points ahead of their rivals after a Saturday of differing fortunes.
Barcelona were initially made to work hard against bottom club Cordoba. Ivan Rakitic made the breakthrough for Barcelona three minutes before the pause. Luis Suarez added the second in stoppage time.
After the break it was a breeze. Suarez completed his hat trick and Lionel Messi bagged a brace. Gerard Pique and Neymar were Barca's other scorers.
Real had a tougher assignment at fifth-placed Sevilla. Cristiano Ronaldo put Real two up before Carlos Bacca halved the deficit on the stroke of half-time.
Ronaldo notched up his third of the game mid-way through the second-half to make it 3-1. But Real couldn't relax once Vicente Iborra had brought it back to 3-2 after 79 minutes.
Carlo Ancelotti's men managed to see out the remaining minutes for what was a gritty, defiant riposte to Barca's earlier stroll in the Cordoba sun.
Elsewhere in La Liga, defending champions Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 at home on Saturday night with Athletic Bilbao to consolidate third place - the final automatic place for next season's Uefa Champions League.
On Sunday night, Valencia can exploit Sevilla's setback. Valencia welcome relegation-threatened Eibar to the Mestalla and all three points for the hosts will give them a three-point advantage over Sevilla in the race for fourth place and a berth in the qualification rounds for the 2015-2016 Champions League.
At the other end of the table, with Cordoba condemned to relegation and propping up the rest, Granada and Deportivo occupy the other two relegation places.
Elche, Getafe, Levante and Almeria are all in the relegation mix. These teams will be concentrating on more modest aspirations such as survival while Barca and Real Madrid battle for the Spanish crown and progress in the Uefa Champions League against Bayern Munich and Juventus.
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