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Barcelona find no way past valiant Valencia

Sunday 3 February 2013 23.00 CET
Tino Costa of Valencia holds Barcelona's Cesc Fàbregas at bay

Valencia CF became only the third side this season to take Liga points off FC Barcelona by earning a 1-1 draw at Mestalla, which allowed Club Atlético de Madrid to close the gap by beating Real Betis Balompié 1-0.

Éver Banega put Valencia in front with an excellent effort on 33 minutes, controlling a dropping ball from a headed clearance before rifling a low shot beyond Víctor Valdés. His side were not ahead for long, however, as Lionel Messi's powerful penalty – his 34th Liga goal of the campaign – pulled the Blaugrana level six minutes later, after João Pereira had felled Pedro Rodríguez.

The second half brought no further goals, but Valencia came closest, with only a stunning save from Valdés denying Roberto Soldado in the closing moments.

Meanwhile, substitute Diego Costa's header from a second-half corner helped second-placed Atlético overcome a stubborn Real Betis Balompié. The capital side now lie nine points shy of the leaders.

Also on Sunday, Isco cancelled out Hélder Postiga's classy opener as Málaga CF drew 1-1 at home against Real Zaragoza, while Álvaro Negredo hit the winner as Sevilla FC triumphed 2-1 at home against Rayo Vallecano de Madrid. Lastly, Real Sociedad de Fútbol eased to a 3-0 home win against an RCD Mallorca side that was reduced to ten men midway through the first half.

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