FC Barcelona will head into 2013 with a nine-point lead at the top of the Liga following a 3-1 triumph over Real Valladolid CF.
Club Atlético de Madrid pulled to within six points of the summit with a 1-0 win against RC Celta de Vigo on Friday but Barcelona responded in kind in Valladolid. Xavi Hernández gave the Azulgrana the lead just prior to half-time and Lionel Messi made it 2-0 on 59 minutes with his 91st goal of the calendar year. Though Javi Guerra's effort briefly made Barça sweat late on, Christian Tello rubber-stamped the victory in added time.
Real Madrid CF are seven points shy of city rivals Atlético following a 3-2 loss at Málaga CF. Isco gave the hosts the lead soon after the interval and though a Sergio Sánchez own goal drew the Merengues level, Roque Santa Cruz scored twice to put Málaga 3-1 ahead. Karim Benzema's 82nd-minute effort proved inconsequential.
Elsewhere, fifth-placed Real Betis Balompié lost 2-1 at home to RCD Mallorca and Granada CF won by the same scoreline at struggling CA Osasuna. Real Zaragoza won 2-0 at Athletic Club in the late game.
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