MADRID — Luis Suarez and Leo Messi both scored as FC Barcelona won 2-0 away to Villarreal to maintain their 5-point lead at the top of the Liga Santander at the end of matchday 15 of the season, which was played over this weekend.
Barca once again made hard work of their win, but after Gerard Pique hit the post in a first half during which Villarreal finished stronger, their job was made a lot easier when Villarreal youngster Raba was sent off for a wild challenge on Sergio Busquets in the 60th minute.
Suarez hit the post again shortly afterwards, but the Uruguayan opened the scoring in the 72nd minute after a swift exchange of passes with Paco Alcacer.
Ter Stegen made a great save to deny Manu Trigueros as Villarreal worked bravely to get a point, but Messi sealed the win with 7 minutes left following an error from Villarreal defender Victor Ruiz.
On Saturday, Real Madrid needed just 45 minutes to secure a surprisingly easy home win against a decaffeinated Sevilla on Saturday, while Valencia had to work hard to defeat Celta Vigo 2-1.
Cristiano Ronaldo showed off the Golden Ball trophy he had been awarded during the week and celebrated with his third and fourth league goals of the season as Madrid took advantage of a Sevilla who were well below their best.
Nacho Fernandez opened the scoring following a corner after just three minutes, and after Ronaldo”s two goals, further strikes from Tony Kroos and Achraf Hakimi, who netted his first goal for the club, confirmed the win.
Valencia had to work a lot harder to beat Celta, who last weekend had drawn in the Camp Nou.
Simone Zaza’s 10th goal of the season with a good header from a corner put Valencia ahead midway through the first half.
Iago Aspas equalized a minute after the break and Celta controlled long periods of the play before a Pablo Hernandez foul on Nacho Gil allowed Dani Parejo to score from the penalty spot.
Atletico Madrid kept up the chase on Sunday with a typically well-organized defensive display to claim a 1-0 win away to Betis thanks to a goal from Saul Niguez on the half hour.
Atletico had just two shots all game, but their defense and one fine save from Jan Oblak to deny Cristian Tello was enough to assure all 3 points in what was a dour game.
Athletic Club Bilbao ended a good week which saw them draw with Real Madrid to reach the next phase of the Europa League with a 2-1 win away to Levante. The win came thanks to an Aritz Aduriz penalty and own-goals from Aritz Aduriz and Sergio Postigo after Aymeric Laporte had also put the ball into his own net for the home side.
Other action saw Malaga continue their recovery with a 2-0 win away to Real Sociedad after two penalties. Borja Baston scored the first and Chori Castro scored from the rebound after Baston’ s second spot kick had been saved.
On Saturday, Adrian Lopez celebrated his 100th appearance for Deportivo la Coruna with the goal which gave his side a well-deserved 1-0 win at home to Leganes, while Getafe and Eibar made history as each side fielded a Japanese player (Takashi Inui ad Gaku Shibasaki), virtually the only fact of note in a dull 0-0 draw.