Barcelona extend unbeaten run to 36 as Messi scores twice; Atleti roll
Barcelona made it 36 games unbeaten as they saw off Eibar 4-0 on Sunday.
Even without the suspended Neymar, the Catalans did not have to wait long to open the scoring as Munir El Haddadi latched on to a Luis Suarez cross to prod home from close range in the eighth minute.
Barca then extended their lead as Ander Capa made a mistake near the halfway line and Lionel Messi picked the ball up, drove forward and fired low into the net.
Messi doubled his tally with a Panenka penalty down the middle, before Luis Suarez broke, muscled two Eibar defenders out of way and fired home after being fed by Sergi Roberto.
The goal was the 100th of the season to be scored by Suarez, Neymar or Messi.
Two inspirational substitutions from Diego Simeone helped give Atletico Madrid a 3-1 win at Valencia that keeps the Rojiblancos within eight points of leaders Barca.
Substitute Fernando Torres poked the visitors back in front on 72 minutes after Valencia forward Denis Cheryshev had cancelled out Antoine Griezmann's opener, while Yannick Carrasco also made his mark after coming off the bench.
He scored a great individual goal late on to kill off the hosts, who had had defender Aderlan Santos dismissed just minutes before.
A third successive victory sees Atletico maintain the gap to leaders Barcelona, who won earlier on Sunday, while Valencia slip down to 11th after suffering a third home defeat in the league. And there was more misery for Valencia coach Gary Neville as goal hero Cheryshev was forced off with a suspected muscle injury.
Ernesto Valverde celebrated signing a new contract as Athletic Bilbao boss with a 2-0 victory at Sporting Gijon.
Valverde, who this week extended his stay with the Basque club until the summer of 2017, watched his team earn a third straight win to move them up to sixth place in La Liga, although Aymeric Laporte's unfortunate red card in the second half soured the mood somewhat.
Athletic might have already been ahead before Benat Etxebarria's free kick opened the scoring after 27 minutes. Benat curled his shot into the far corner of the net from the left side of the penalty area but Sporting goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar should have done better, allowing the ball pass through his hands.
Valverde's side dominated and always looked comfortable but it took until the 59th minute to score the second goal -- however Oscar de Marcos' strike was worth the wait.
Aritz Aduriz laid the ball into his path 18 yards out and the marauding right-back hit a first time shot with the outside of his foot which arrowed into the far top corner of the net.
Real Betis survived the dismissal of defender Juan Vargas to deepen Granada's relegation worries with a 2-0 victory.
Vargas was sent off in the 53rd minute after picking up two yellow cards, with the game at the Estadio Benito Villamarin still goalless.
But late goals from Alfred N'Diaye and Ruben Castro gave Betis back-to-back Primera Division wins for the first time since the start of October and lift them two places in the table to 11th.
Castro's free kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time came after Granada goalkeeper Andres Fernandez had been red carded for handling outside his area.
Bottom club Levante gave their survival hopes a boost after holding out for a 1-1 draw at mid-table Real Sociedad.
Brazilian striker Deyverson struck in the 24th minute to cancel out an earlier opener from Diego Reyes and move the visitors to within six points of safety.
It marked another sign of improvement in Levante, who snapped a four-game losing streak with victory over Getafe last month and performed well in a 3-1 midweek loss to Real Madrid.