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Barcelona beat Celta Vigo to remain four clear atop La Liga

Madrid: Hosts Celta Vigo put on a spirited display but a 74th minute header from defender Jeremy Mathieu gave league leaders FC Barcelona a crucial 1-0 win which left them four points clear of second-placed Real Madrid in the La Liga standings.

Jeremy Mathieu. Pic/AFP
Jeremy Mathieu. Pic/AFP 

Earlier on Sunday, striker Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals as Real Madrid humiliated Granada 9-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium here, reports Xinhua.

Ronaldo's goals included his fastest ever hat-trick as his side took advantage of the fact that Granada rested key players with up to eight first team regulars sidelined. Those who did start then produced a string of defensive mistakes which took their side to their heaviest ever La Liga defeat.

Striker Karim Benzema scored twice and winger Gareth Bale opened the scoring while Diego Mainz ended a disastrous game for his side by scoring Madrid's eighth goal past his own keeper. While Real Madrid deserve credit for scoring so many goals, Granada's attitude to the game made it much easier.

Saturday saw the battle for the Champions League and European places as Atletico Madrid moved momentarily into third place thanks to first half goals from forwards Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez which gave them an easy win away to bottom of the table Cordoba.

There was never any doubt over the final outcome after Griezmann, who had not scored in March, took advantage of a defensive lapse. Cordoba have now lost their last nine matches and are in free-fall to second division with just 18 points all season.

Atletico's win lifted them above Valencia, who were held to a 0-0 draw at home to local rivals Villarreal. The way things stand, Valencia would have to play a qualification round to get into the group stage of next season's Champions League.

Sevilla also kept their hopes of a top-four finish alive with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Athletic Club Bilbao thanks to early goals from Aleix Vidal and Carlos Bacca. Athletic also lost striker Iker Muniain with what looks like a serious knee injury.

Levante gave their hopes of survival a massive boost with a 4-1 win away to Almeria in which David Barral scored his second hat-trick of the season. The defeat cost Almeria coach Jose Ignacio Martinez his job after the club sacked him on Sunday.

Getafe will breathe a lot easier after a 2-1 win at home to Deportivo la Coruna thanks to goals from defenders Alexis Ruano and Sergio Escudero. While Getafe move towards the mid-table, Deportivo are still close to the relegation zone.

Ruben Pardo's late equaliser gave Real Sociedad a 1-1 draw in Malaga and leaves the battle for seventh place open between the two sides and Athletic Club.

The 29th round of games kicked-off on Friday as Rayo Vallecano won 2-1 away to Eibar.

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