FC Barcelona condemned Málaga CF to a 3-1 defeat to maintain their 11-point lead at the top of the Liga standings after second-placed Club Atlético de Madrid prevailed 2-0 at home to Real Zaragoza.
Málaga's meticulous defensive work was finally undone after 27 minutes when Ignacio Camacho's under-hit back pass was seized upon by Lionel Messi, who rounded goalkeeper Willy and slotted in. The breakthrough prompted a long spell of dominance from Tito Vilanova's side and they extended their lead shortly after the break courtesy of Cesc Fàbregas's clinical finish.
Thiago Alcántara concluded a mazy run by sweeping the ball past Willy eight minutes from time, before Diego Buonanotte's sublime free-kick earned Málaga a consolation. As for Atlético, they moved seven points clear of third-placed Real Madrid CF following their win against Zaragoza. Tiago turned in Gabi's corner after 31 minutes, before Falcao completed the formalities from the spot seven minutes later.
Real Betis Balompié eased past Levante UD 2-0 to jump ahead of Málaga into fourth, while RC Deportivo La Coruña – who had Evaldo sent off – held Real Sociedad de Fútbol to a 1-1 draw.
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