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Barca extend lead in Spain as Real Madrid lose in Mallorca

Madrid, Feb 6 (IANS) FC Barcelona moved eight points clear at the top of La Liga after a 3-0 win at home to Sevilla, coupled with a 1-0 defeat for Real Madrid in Mallorca.

Barca controlled most of their game against Sevilla but were unable to score after a series of excellent saves from Sevilla keeper Bono, reports Xinhua news agency.

Jordi Alba broke the deadlock in the 58th minute when the full-back finished off a long move that involved 17 passes.

Gavi doubled Barca’s lead in the 70th minute, with a simple tap-in at the far post after an excellent pass from Raphinha and Rahpinha got a deserved goal with 10 minutes to go after being set up by Alba, who had broken the Sevilla offside trap.

Real Madrid lost 1-0 away to Mallorca, who scored in the first half when Vedat Muriqi’s header was deflected over Andriy Lunin by Nacho Fernandez.

Lunin was a late replacement for Thibaut Courtois, who pulled up in warm-up after appearing to injure a groin muscle.

Madrid had most of the ball and most of the chances against an exceptionally solid rival and their best chance came on the hour when Marco Asensio saw his penalty saved by Predrag Rajkovic.

Cyle Larin’s second goal in two games for Valladolid was enough to give his side consecutive wins and condemn third-place Real Sociedad to their first league defeat since October 30 last year.

The side from San Sebastian didn’t have a good day in front of goal, and Larin punished them when he took advantage of Valladolid’s only chance in the second half.

Atletico Madrid dropped two points in their home game against struggling Getafe, despite Angel Correa’s slightly surreal opener.

The striker put the ball in the Getafe net in the 60th minute, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. While the VAR was revising the play, he was substituted, which meant he was sitting in the dugout when the VAR gave the goal as legal.

Enes Unal equalized for Getafe with an 82nd-minute penalty after the ball hit Saul Niguez’s outstretched arm in the penalty area.

There were thrills and controversy as Celta Vigo won 4-3 away to Betis. Jorgen Strand Larsen put Celta ahead in the fifth minute only for Juanmi to level three minutes later.

Sergio Canales gave Betis the lead in the 22nd minute, but Gabriel Veiga scored twice and Joseph Aidoo put Celta 4-2 up before Nabil Fekir’s 83rd-minute penalty.

There was further drama in the 94th minute when Betis defender Luis Felipe was sent off for allegedly hitting Celta’s Iago Aspas, although TV replays implied Aspas was play-acting and Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini accused the striker of ‘disloyalty’ in his press conference.

Valencia’s misery continues as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat away to Girona that leaves them fourth from the bottom of the table.

Borja Garcia scored the only goal of the match in the 63rd minute and Valencia’s crisis was highlighted by the fact goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili was their best player with six impressive saves to keep the score down.

Pere Milla scored two penalties in a hat-trick, as Elche claimed their first win of the season with a 3-1 win at home to Villarreal, even though they had just 27 percent of possession.

Ante Budimir and Martin Braithwaite both scored as Espanyol and Osasuna drew 1-1 in a game where both teams played 45 minutes with 10 men after Osasuna winger Ez Abde and Espanyol defender Ronael Pierre-Gabriel saw red after squaring up to each other.

Oihan Sancet scored a hat-trick as Athletic Club Bilbao claimed their first league win of 2023, with a 4-1 victory at home to Cadiz on Friday night.