Real join Barca, Atletico on top

 Real Madrid extended their unbeaten run to 25 matches and rejoined Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga when Jese, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric scored in a 3-0 win at Getafe on Sunday.

Barca, chasing a fifth title in six years, and Atletico recorded easy home wins on Saturday, the champions thrashing Rayo Vallecano 6-0 and Atletico thumping Real Valladolid 3-0, and the title race remains a tight three-way fight with 14 matches left.

Barca lead from Real, with Atletico in third, when goal difference is taken into account but the trio, who each have 60 points from 24 games, will be separated by head-to-head records if they are still tied at the end of the campaign.

Real have not been beaten since a 2-1 La Liga reverse at Barca at the end of October. They lost 1-0 at home to Atletico in the league a month earlier, while Barca and Atletico drew 0-0 in Madrid last month.

Athletic Bilbao are trailing on 44 points in fourth and can pull seven clear of fifth-placed Villarreal, who lost 2-0 at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday, with a win at home to Espanyol later on Sunday before Sevilla host Valencia.

Real were missing La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo for their trip to the Madrid suburbs and it was the player brought in to replace the Portugal forward, Jese, who opened the scoring at Getafe's Coliseum stadium in the sixth minute.

France forward Benzema finished off a swift break with some neat control and a clinical shot in the 27th and Croatia midfielder Modric fired a third from just outside the penalty area in the 66th.

Bottom side Real Betis look destined for the drop after they lost 1-0 in Sunday's midday kickoff at Andalusian rivals Granada. Seville-based Betis have won just three games this season and are six points adrift of 19th-placed Rayo. 

Messi overtakes Stefano

Earlier, Lionel Messi overhauled Alfredo Di Stefano’s La Liga goals tally as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid warmed up for midweek Champions League action.

Back to his best after returning from a two-month injury layoff in early January, Messi struck twice in Barca’s 6-0 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano at the Nou Camp to take his total in Spain’s top flight to 228 goals from 263 matches, one more than Real Madrid great Di Stefano managed in 329 games.

Still only 26, Messi climbed above his Argentine compatriot to joint third on the all-time list behind record marksman Telmo Zarra (251) and Hugo Sanchez (234) and level with Raul.
“I would like to think that Messi has still not completely recovered (from his injury),” Barca coach Gerardo Martino told a news conference.

“If he wants to, he will break all the records that he likes,” added the Argentine, who hails from Messi’s home town of Rosario.

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