Atletico, Barcelona prosper; struggling Real stumble to defeat at Sevilla

Atletico, Barcelona prosper; struggling Real stumble to defeat at Sevilla

Diego Costa's header gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 victory over Granada on Wednesday that lifted them a point clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga as Real Madrid slipped to third after losing 2-1 at Sevilla.

Neymar struck twice to inspire Barcelona to a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo but the victory was soured by a torn cruciate knee ligament for goalkeeper Victor Valdes who will now miss the rest of the season.

Atletico continued their remarkable season as Costa nodded home a Jose Sosa cross after 63 minutes for a win over Granada that put them on 73 points.

Barcelona have 72 and Real are three points off the pace on 70 after suffering their second consecutive defeat.

"We weren't precise with our passing and we needed to link up better. We suffered against a side that went out to play on the counter," Atletico coach Diego Simeone told a news conference.

Barcelona were brimming with confidence after their weekend Clasico victory over Real and Neymar scored from close range to put them ahead after six minutes before Lionel Messi slotted home on the half-hour mark.

Neymar latched on to a long ball from Alexis Sanchez and scored his ninth league goal of the season to complete the rout in the second half.

A deflected Cristiano Ronaldo free kick gave Real the lead against Sevilla but the Andalusian side responded with a double from Carlos Bacca to record their sixth successive league win and they now have 50 points in fifth.

Atletico played at their usual high intensity but they struggled to break down a Granada side who also worked hard.

After Diego Costa broke the deadlock Atletico were able to control the match by maintaining possession in the middle of the pitch.