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Barcelona restore lead as Madrid lose to Málaga

Saturday 22 December 2012 22.10 CET
Lionel Messi (left) and Xavi Hernández were both on the mark against Valladolid

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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