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La Liga: Barca move nine clear after narrow win, Real Madrid draw

Raphinha's flicked header from Sergio Busquets' pass in the 15th minute was enough to give Barca all three points for another below-par performance.

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Madrid: FC Barcelona defeated Valencia 1-0 to move nine points clear at the top of La Liga on Sunday afternoon after Real Madrid drew 0-0 away to Betis.

Raphinha’s flicked header from Sergio Busquets’ pass in the 15th minute was enough to give Barca all three points for another below-par performance.

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Ferran Torres hit a 54th-minute penalty against the woodwork against his former club, and Ansu Fati also hit the post as Barca looked to double their lead before Ronald Araujo was sent off for a direct red card in the 59th minute after bringing down Hugo Duro when he was clean through on goal.

Valencia were unlucky not to get a penalty five minutes from time when Franck Kessie looked to have fouled Fran Perez on the edge of the Barca area, only for the referee to give a corner.

Barca’s win put the pressure on Real Madrid, who kicked off their visit to fifth-place Betis 10 points off the top of the table.

A 0-0 draw in the Benito Villamarin Stadium reduced the gap to nine points after a tight game where the best play was in midfield. Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois made a magnificent save to deny Betis striker Borja Iglesias early in the second half, while Real Madrid had a goal ruled out for handball by Antonio Rudiger.

Rayo Vallecano and Athletic Club Bilbao drew 0-0 in a rainy Vallecas Stadium in an even game where each side hit the woodwork. Alvaro hit the post for Rayo, while Nico Williams thundered a shot against the crossbar in injury time, moments before Oihan Sancet was sent off for a harsh red card, which will see him suspended next week against FC Barcelona.

Valladolid took three vital points with a 2-1 win at home to Espanyol after an impressive performance.

Ivan Sanchez and Alvaro Aguado put Valladolid 2-0 ahead with goals in the 24th and 61st minute of the game, although Martin Braithwaite’s effort five minutes from time left a nervous end to the game for the home side

Diego Simeone celebrated a new record of 612 games in charge of Atletico Madrid as his side thrashed Sevilla 6-1 to move into third place on Saturday night.

Two goals in three first-half minutes from Memphis Depay put Atletico 2-0 up before Youssef En-Nesyri pulled a goal back for Sevilla in the 38th minute.

Atletico sealed the win with second-half goals from Antoine Griezmann, Yannick Carrasco and two from substitute Alvaro Morata.

Real Sociedad slipped to fourth after a 0-0 draw at home to Cadiz on Friday night, while Villarreal strengthened their hold on a European place after a 2-0 win away to Almeria.

Almeria were confident after last weekend’s 1-0 win at home to Barcelona but were outplayed by Villarreal, who sealed the points with goals in the last 15 minutes from Gerard Moreno and Jose Luis Morales.

There was a ‘game of two halves’ in Getafe, who led Girona 3-0 at the break with two goals from Enes Unal and one from Borja Mayoral. However, Girona fought back with goals from Valentin Castellanos and Miguel Gutierrez were close to a point.

Lucas Boye’s 87th-minute goal stunned Mallorca to give bottom-of-the-table Elche their second win of the season, with the home side seeing a 95th-minute equalizer ruled out by VAR.

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