x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Barcelona take another step to securing the title

Seydou Keita scores the only goal of the game against lowly Real Zaragoza to stretch Barca's unbeaten run in the Primera Liga to 25 matches.

Barcelona took another step towards retaining their Primera Liga title but looked far from convincing in winning 1-0 at home to struggling Real Zaragoza.

Seydou Keita, who had earlier seen an effort controversially ruled out for offside, scored the only goal of the game when he slid home Lionel Messi’s low cross just before the break.

Pep Guardiola, the Barca coach, took his place on the bench despite having been released from hospital only hours before the game.

Guardiola, who was admitted with a lower back problem on Thursday, was visibly struggling as he took his seat and was a less animated figure than usual.

The win put Barca provisionally 10 points clear of Real Madrid, who play Racing Santander today.

Pablo Hernandez struck both goals as Valencia came from behind to beat Real Mallorca 2-1 and ensure they would finish the weekend still in third place.

Mallorca took a 31st-minute lead through an Ivan Ramis penalty but Valencia needed just two minutes to get back on level terms thanks to Pablo, who then struck the winning goal 11 minutes into the second half.

Villarreal had their hopes of breaking the top three checked by an impressive Atletico Madrid performance at the Vicente Calderon.

Jose Antonio Reyes got the ball rolling after five minutes for Atletico before the dangerous Giuseppe Rossi brought parity to proceedings 10 minutes before half-time.

Atletico’s highly-rated front two of Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero then made their presence felt, scoring within four minutes of each other to ensure the home win.