MADRID: FC Barcelona reopened a three-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with a 1-0 win against Atlético Madrid on Sunday night.
Ousmane Dembele’s goal midway through the first half after a good job from Pedri and Gavi was enough to give Barça victory.
The league leaders struggled at times to create clear chances without the suspended Robert Lewandowski, but they produced a much-improved defensive display to frustrate an Atlético side where Joao Félix couldn’t make the difference.
Tempers frayed in the final moments and both Barca’s Ferran Torres and Atletico defender Stefan Savic were sent off for fighting moments before Ronald Araujo cleared the line to deny Antoine Griezmann.
Real Sociedad enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 win against Almería thanks to second-half goals from David Silva and Alexander Sorloth to strengthen their third-place position.
The San Sebastián side have won their last three La Liga games and Sunday’s victory moved them six points behind second-placed Real Madrid, who lost to Villarreal 2-1 on Saturday.
Real Betis won 2-1 away to Rayo Vallecano with Luiz Henrique scoring the winner.
Before the Brazilian’s 40th-minute goal, Betis had taken the lead when Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski punched teammate Ivan Balliu in the head to bounce it off the net.
Sergio Camello equalized for Rayo in the 20th minute after a mistake by Rui Silva, but Henrique’s goal proved decisive.
A header from Marcos Acuña in the first half and another from Rafa Mir with 10 minutes remaining gave Sevilla a vital 2-1 home win against Getafe.
Borja Mayoral came from behind for the visitors in the final minutes, but it was not enough to save a point and Sevilla dropped out of the bottom three.
On Saturday, World Cup-winning Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni returned to Spain to watch Mallorca beat Real Valladolid 1-0.
Espanyol are still fighting in the relegation zone after a late goal from Girona midfielder Yangel Herrera denied them victory in a 2-2 draw.
On Friday night, Iago Aspas handed Celta Vigo a 1-0 win against bottom club Elche, while Rubén Alcaraz’s ninth-minute goal saw Cádiz stun Valencia 1-0 to move them closer to the security. ■