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By ESPN Staff

Xavi double puts Barcelona top as Valencia lose

MADRID, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Xavi scored twice to lead Barcelona to the top of the Primera Liga on Saturday with a 4-1 win at Malaga as Valencia lost 4-2 at home to Racing Santander after a hat-trick from Mohamed Tchite.

Barcelona's victory, their seventh league win in a row, puts them on 22 points from nine matches, one ahead of Villarreal, who won 4-1 at Athletic Bilbao, on a rain-soaked night in Spain.

Valencia drop to third with 20 points, while Real Madrid, who visit Almeria on Sunday, are fourth on 19.

Spain midfielder Xavi stroked a sublime free kick into the top corner after six minutes to give Barca the lead before Duda curled in Malaga's equaliser from the edge of the area.

With the players slipping on the sodden pitch, a defensive error let in Lionel Messi to make it 2-1 after 19 minutes and Thierry Henry set up Xavi for his second just after the break.

Barca's fourth came after 83 minutes when Dani Alves struck a long-range free kick that catapulted in off defender Weligton, completing Barcelona's 11th win in a row in all competitions.

"It was pretty difficult because of the state of the pitch," defender Gerard Pique told Marca Radio.

"But that's no excuse, we have to be able to win anywhere and we showed we can do that."

Sergio Aguero celebrated his return after being rested with a first-half double as Atletico Madrid beat Real Mallorca 2-0 at the Vicente Calderon, their first league win in five matches.

Racing took a surprise early lead at a sodden Mestalla when Tchite slid in to poke Jonathan Pereira's pass into the net.

But Valencia soon equalised when winger Joaquin was chopped down and David Villa clipped home the penalty just before the half-hour to become the league's top scorer with 10 goals.

Tchite blasted a second from long range in off the post just after the break but Joaquin put the home side back on level terms midway through the half after a mistake by keeper Tono.

Tchite stole in to score with a header 10 minutes from time to wrap up his hat-trick and Valencia defender David Albelda sliced in an own goal shortly after to seal Racing's win.

In Bilbao, former Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi scored Villarreal's first goal after 24 minutes when he drove in a low, left-foot shot from the edge of the area.

The lead lasted four minutes before Joseba Etxebarria headed in from a tight angle. However, Robert Pires, Santi Cazorla and teenage striker Jozy Altidore netted second-half goals to make sure of the points for the visitors.


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