Atletico maintain gap in Spain after Messi brace

Date published: Monday 7th March 2016 7:56

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi: Both scored in Barcelona win

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi: Both scored in Barcelona win

Atletico Madrid won 3-1 at Valencia on Sunday night but remain eight points behind Barcelona in La Liga after Lionel Messi scored twice in a 4-0 win at Eibar.

Luis Enrique’s men shrugged off the absence of Neymar through suspension with his replacement Munir El Haddadi opening the scoring with just eight minutes on the clock.

Messi then netted either side of the break, first with a sweeping low drive and then with a Panenka from the penalty spot, before Luis Suarez completed the rout, netting for the first time in four matches.

The Uruguay forward’s strike was the 100th goal scored by one of the ‘MSN’ trident of Messi, Suarez and Neymar this season.

Atletico Madrid stayed eight points behind Barcelona in second place after two inspirational substitutions from Diego Simeone saw them win 3-1 at 10-man Valencia.

Substitute Fernando Torres poked the visitors back in front on 72 minutes after Valencia forward Denis Cheryshev had cancelled out Antoine Griezmann’s opener, while Yannick Carrasco also made his mark after coming off the bench.

He scored a great individual goal late on to kill off the hosts, who had had defender Aderlan Santos dismissed just minutes before.

Bilbao and Betis also win

Ernesto Valverde celebrated signing a new contract as Athletic Bilbao boss with a 2-0 victory at Sporting Gijon.

Valverde watched his team earn a third straight win to move them up to sixth place in La Liga, although Aymeric Laporte’s second-half red card soured the mood somewhat.

Benat Etxebarria opened the scoring with a free-kick and Oscar de Marcos hit a fine second in the 59th minute to seal victory for Valverde’s men.

Bottom club Levante gave their survival hopes a boost after holding out for a 1-1 draw at mid-table Real Sociedad.

Brazilian striker Deyverson struck in the 24th minute to cancel out an earlier opener from Diego Reyes and move the visitors to within six points of safety.

And Real Betis survived the dismissal of defender Juan Vargas to deepen Granada’s relegation worries with a 2-0 victory.

Vargas was sent off in the 53rd minute after picking up two yellow cards, with the game at the Estadio Benito Villamarin still goalless.

But late goals from Alfred N’Diaye and Ruben Castro gave Betis back-to-back Primera Division wins for the first time since the start of October and lift them two places in the table to 11th.

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