Lionel Messi’s 25th Spanish topflight goal of the season kept Barcelona on track for the 2017/18 LaLiga Santander title, during a weekend which also saw Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo make up ground in the ‘Pichichi’ top scorers’ race with four goals.
Messi’s strike in Barca’s 2-0 victory over Athletic Club on Sunday afternoon means the Argentine has now scored at least 25 goals in each of the last nine LaLiga seasons. Paco Alcacer was also on target at Camp Nou as the Blaugrana side moved another step closer to a first ever entire LaLiga season unbeaten.
Barça are now 11 points clear at the top of the table, after second placed Atlético Madrid lost 2-1 at Villarreal. Atlético led thanks to Antoine Griezmann’s first-half penalty, but a late double from Turkey international Enes Unal turned the game around completely.
Real Madrid remain third despite a 6-3 win at home to Girona, with Ronaldo scoring four times to move to 22 goals in LaLiga this term – 18 of which have come in his last nine outings. Madrid's Lucas Vazquez and Gareth Bale also netted, while Girona kept battling back via Cristhian Stuani’s brace and Juanpe’s header.
Valencia held on fourth spot after a 3-1 home win over Alavés at Mestalla, a fifth victory in six LaLiga games for Los Che, who had in-form strike pair Simone Zaza and Rodrigo Moreno on the score sheet.
Leganes again showed LaLiga’s impressive strength in depth, beating Champions League quarter-finalists Sevilla 2-1 at Butarque at Sunday lunchtime. The visitors' Mexico international Miguel Layun scored his first LaLiga goal late on.
Real Betis are up to seventh in the LaLiga table after a 3-0 win at home to Espanyol on Saturday evening. Man of the match was Algeria international Ryad Boudebouz, who both scored and assisted in a LaLiga game for the first time.
Getafe climbed into the top half with a 2-1 comeback victory at Real Sociedad on Saturday evening. La Real announced on Sunday that B team coach Imanol Alguacil was being promoted to replace Eusebio Sacristan as first team boss for the rest of the season.
Paco Lopez became the first Levante coach to win both his first two LaLiga games in charge, with young Ghana striker Emmanuel Boateng hitting the winner in a 2-1 home victory over Eibar which gives his side a six-point cushion over the bottom three.
The weekend’s big battle at the bottom finished 1-1 at Riazor, with Las Palmas playmaker Alen Halilovic’s fine solo goal putting his side ahead on just three minutes, but Deportivo La Coruna defender Raul Albentosa equalising with a header before half time.
Bottom team Malaga also gained a point with a 0-0 draw at home to Celta Vigo on Sunday afternoon. However the Andalusians now have a 12 point gap to safety, with just nine games remaining.