La Liga: Barcelona, Madrid win as title race nears climax
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona and Real Madrid maintained their neck-and-neck title race in the Spanish league on Saturday, when both teams won to stay level on points at the top.
Luis Suarez scored twice and Lionel Messi set up another goal to give Barcelona a 3-0 victory at crosstown rival Espanyol, while Real Madrid needed a late strike by Marcelo after Cristiano Ronaldo had missed a penalty to secure a 2-1 win over Valencia at home.
''We had to bring out our fighting spirit and show who we are,'' Marcelo said. ''We want to win every match we have left. Our goal is to go game by game.''
The victories left Barcelona ahead of Madrid on the head-to-head record thanks to its win in the Spanish capital two rounds ago. Madrid, however, has four matches left compared to Barcelona's three and can ensure it lifts its first Liga title since 2012 if it wins all of them.
While Barcelona can rest up for next round, Madrid must now prepare for its Champions League semifinal against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Atletico primed its attack for the upcoming European derby by rolling to a 5-0 victory at Las Palmas.
ESPANYOL 0, BARCELONA 3
Espanyol defended well until the 50th minute when Suarez pounced on an ill-advised back pass by Jose Jurado that left him space to size up Diego Lopez before stabbing a shot past the goalkeeper.
Back from a three-match suspension, Neymar almost added another shortly after when he forced Lopez to palm his strike over the top.
Messi, who had scored a brace of goals in the last three league matches, set up Ivan Rakitic in the 76th.
Suarez got another gift with three minutes left from Espanyol defender Aaron Martin, who flubbed a routine clearance. Suarez only had to round Lopez to complete his double.
Jurado's night to forget started with him missing an excellent opportunity to give Espanyol the lead just three minutes in when he was alone but sent his shot trickling wide.
The goals were Suarez's first in six matches, and took his league tally to 26.
LAS PALMAS 0, ATLETICO MADRID 5
Kevin Gameiro struck twice and Saul Niguez added another goal for Atletico before 20 minutes were up. Substitutes Thomas Partey and Fernando Torres rounded off the demolition for Diego Simeone's side.
The win left Atletico in third place - three points ahead of Sevilla, which plays at Malaga on Monday.
Atletico has the chance on Tuesday to avenge losses in the Champions League final to Madrid both in 2014 and 2016.
REAL SOCIEDAD 2, GRANADA 1
Granada became the second team to be relegated - after last-placed Osasuna - following a fifth straight defeat, including three under new coach Tony Adams.
Sporting Gijon is currently in the third drop spot, six points from Leganes in safety.