Barca cruise, Atletico in pursuit

Sunday 13th January 2013 21:29

Lionel Messi: On target yet again as Barcelona beat Malaga

Lionel Messi: On target yet again as Barcelona beat Malaga

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Barcelona made light work of Malaga, while Atletico Madrid are now seven points clear of rivals Real Madrid after beating Real Zaragoza.

Messi on target; Atletico keep on winning; Depor and Sociedad draw; Betis on the rise

Lionel Messi celebrated his fourth successive Ballon d'Or award by once again inspiring Barcelona to victory at Malaga.

Messi won his record-breaking FIFA honour on Monday, taking the honour ahead of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, and continued his magnificent scoring run by breaking the deadlock in the 27th minute.

The Argentinian then teed up Cesc Fabregas to put Barcelona two goals to the good after the interval before substitute Thiago made the game safe late on - despite Diego Buonanotte grabbing a consolation in the final minute.

It was ultimately a comfortable evening for the Primera Division leaders, who are 11 points clear of closest challengers Atletico Madrid.

Earlier in the evening a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Real Zaragoza at the Vicente Calderon saw Atletico Madrid move seven points ahead of their rivals Real Madrid.

After a dominant opening spell, Tiago eventually headed Atleti in front on the half-hour mark as he rose highest to nod home Gabi's corner.

Radamel Falcao then added the second from the penalty spot seven minutes before the break after Arda Turan was brought down by Cristian Sapunaru.

And despite failing to build on their advantage, the hosts comfortably saw out the second period without any major scares.

Relegation-battling Deportivo La Coruna held on for the final 26 minutes with 10 men to earn a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad.

Depor took a 27th-minute through Luis Pizzi but then found themselves on the back foot after conceding an equaliser to Carlos Vela on the stroke of half-time and then losing defender Evaldo to a red card just after the hour-mark.

However, Sociedad could not make the most of their numerical advantage in the closing stages as Depor made it four points from two games under new coach Domingos Paciencia.

Real Betis boosted their European hopes as goals from Joel Campbell and Ruben Castro handed them a 2-0 win over Levante.

Campbell opened the scoring after just seven minutes as he swept home Castro's pass at the end of a flowing counter-attack for just his second Betis goal.

Roger had two decent chances to draw Levante level minutes before and after the break, but he failed to make a proper connection with either attempt and Castro gave the hosts the cushion they needed with a brilliant turn and finish 27 minutes from time.