Late goals from Luis Suarez and Leo Messi gave FC Barcelona a 2-0 win at home to second place Atletico Madrid on Saturday night.
The win gives Barca an 11 point lead at the top of the Liga Santander table with just seven games to play and they are now virtually champions elect in Spain.
Atletico went to the Camp Nou Stadium knowing they needed a win to get back into the title race, but their task was made harder when Diego Costa was sent off 10 minutes before halftime for insulting the referee.
Barca were below their best for much of the game and found it hard to break down a well-organized rival, whose goalkeeper, Jan Oblak, produced several excellent saves.
Atletico even looked to take the three points in the second half, but in the end Suarez and Messi’s goals in the 85th and 86th minute the were enough to give Barca the win.
Earlier on Saturday Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid needed two second half goals from Karim Benzema to come from behind to beat Eibar 2-1.
Only the finishing of the French striker saved Madrid from losing points against the Basque side who opened the scoring in the 39th minute with a goal from Barcelona loanee Marc Cardona after dominating the first half.
Second from bottom Rayo Vallecano caused a surprise winning 2-0 at home to fifth-placed Valencia 2-0 to end Valencia’s 17-game unbeaten run in all competitions and keep their own hopes of avoiding relegation alive, while denting Valencia’s hopes of a top-four finish.
Top scorer of Rayo Raul de Tomas opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, shortly after Valencia’s captain Dani Parejo saw his penalty saved, and Mario Suarez sealed Rayo’s victory in injury time.
Chinese striker Wu Lei played for 76 minutes in Espanyol’s 2-1 away win over Girona. Both of Espanyol’s goals came through midfielder Sergi Darder, who scored in the 59th minute and sealed the win in the 89th minute with a shot that rebounded into the net off Girona keeper ‘Bono’.