Barcelona, Atletico back on top with convincing wins

 Barcelona and Atletico Madrid climbed back to the top of La Liga as Barca coasted to a 3-0 victory at home to Malaga and Atletico won 4-2 at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

Real Madrid had claimed the overnight lead thanks to Saturday's 2-0 home success against Granada before Barca and Atletico restored their one-point advantage with comfortable wins against outclassed opponents. The joint leaders have 54 points from 21 matches, with Barca ahead on goal difference. Real are lurking ominously on 53 and Athletic Bilbao trail on 42 in fourth after they thrashed Osasuna 5-1 on Sunday.
Barca fans paid tribute to veteran midfielder Xavi before kickoff at the Nou Camp after he reached the milestone of 700 official games for the Spanish champions earlier this month.

The Spain playmaker turned in a typically impeccable performance controlling play in the centre and Malaga were forced to rely on the counter attack to have any hope of troubling the hosts.

Barca's Chile forward Alexis Sanchez clipped the post in the fifth minute and Lionel Messi sent a dinked effort narrowly wide in the 22nd before Gerard Pique fired in the opener five minutes before halftime.

Pique headed against a post from another corner in the 54th minute and moments later Messi freed Pedro on the left of the area and he curled a shot into the corner. Pedro turned provider just after the hour when he picked up another Messi pass and sent a low centre to the far post for Alexis to score.

Spain's record scorer David Villa set Atletico on their way in the eighth minute at Rayo's Vallecas stadium.  Arda, made it 2-0 on the half hour after more good work from Costa.

Rayo pulled a goal back in the 40th minute through Viera. Arda then scored his second moments before the break. Costa appeared to have netted his 20th of the campaign in the 75th minute but it was ruled an own goal and attributed to Rayo midfielder Saul Niguez. Joaquin Larrivay nodded a second for Rayo a minute later.

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