MADRID, March 19 — FC Barcelona opened up an 11 point lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga Santander after they enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Athletic Club Bilbao ahead of the international break, while Atletico Madrid lost 2-1 away to Villarreal.
Barca were quickly ahead against a side struggling for confidence and form and quickly took the lead when Paco Alcacer, in the side for the suspended Luis Suarez, side footed home from 10 yards out.
It was all Barca after that, and Leo Messi doubled their lead on the half hour and but for visiting keeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga and the woodwork the game would have been over by halftime.
Barca took their foot off the gas while Athletic improved and a dull second half saw few chances at either end.
Meanwhile Atletico’s title bid looks to be over after two late goals from Enes Unal condemned them to a 2-1 defeat away to Villarreal.
Antoine Griezmann’s 20th minute penalty looked as if it was going to be enough to give Atletico their 10th 1-0 win of the season, but their usually rock solid defense went to sleep twice in the last 10 minutes.
Unal’s first goal came in the 82nd minute as the Turk headed home following a corner and he then netted the winner in injury time.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals as Real Madrid won an entertaining game 6-3 at home to Girona. The Catalan side went in level at the break after Ronaldo’s first goal and an equalizer from Cristhian Stauni, ahead of a second half which produced seven goals.
Two more from Ronaldo and a further strike from Lucas Vazquez put Madrid 4-1 up before Stuani’s second made it 4-2.
Gareth Bale made it 5-2 before Juampe netted Girona’s third ahead of Ronaldo’s fourth for Madrid in injury time.
Saturday saw Valencia strengthen their case for a top-four finish with a 3-1 win at home to Alaves, who have now lost their last three matches.
Rodrigo Moreno, who was called into the Spanish national team on Friday, opened the scoring in the 19th minute.
Simone Zaza doubled Valencia’s lead 14 minutes later with a slight touch following a free kick, and although Ruben Soriano gave Alaves hope of a fightback in the 49th minute, an own goal from Victor Laguardia after 54 minutes made the result safe for Valencia.
Betis enjoyed an easy 3-0 win at home to Espanyol to give their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Europa League a major boost thanks to goals from Junior Firpo, Ryad Boudebouz and Francis as coach Quique Setien gave a vote of confidence to young players in his squad.
Getafe also retain their European options with a 2-1 victory away to Real Sociedad. The home side took the lead in the 23rd minute with Willian Jose’s 13th game of the campaign, but Djene’s header on the stroke of halftime leveled the score and Angel Rodriguez’s wonderful 25 yard strike six minutes after the break gave Getafe only their second away win of the campaign.
Saturday started with a 1-1 draw between Deportivo la Coruna and Las Palmas which leaves both sides facing the prospect of relegation 7 and 6 points respectively behind Levante, who on Friday night defeated Eibar to 2-1 to take a huge stride toward top-flight salvation. – XINHUA