A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight:
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Malaga 1-2 Barcelona
Barcelona were without Neymar on Saturday, but find themselves top of La Liga once again anyway, thanks in no small part to genius of Lionel Messi. Since returning from a knee injury in early November, Messi has scored 14 goals in 14 games across all competitions — seems a rather average rate for him, doesn’t it? — a streak which was extended on Saturday, as the Argentine scored the stunning winner (below video) away to Malaga.
20-year-old Munir El Haddadi opened the scoring and put Barca ahead after just two minutes, but the hosts equalized just after the half-hour mark, setting Messi up to be the hero once again. With the victory, Barca move one point clear of Atletico Madrid, who play on Sunday. Due to their participation in last month’s Club World Cup, Barca will once again have a game in hand on everyone in the title race at the end of the weekend.
Espanyol 2-2 Villarreal
4th-place Villarreal went behind and came back twice on Saturday to rescue a 2-2 draw away to 13th-place Espanyol. Manu Trigueros and Mateo Musacchio bagged the goals for El Submarino Amarillo (The Yellow Submarine), who saw their hold on the fourth and final UEFA Champions League place strengthen from a six-point lead entering the weekend, to seven at the end of day.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Granada 3-2 Getafe
Rayo Vallecano 3-0 Celta Vigo
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Athletic Bilbao vs. Eibar (6 a.m. ET)
Atletico Madrid vs. Sevilla (10 a.m. ET)
Deportivo La Coruna vs. Valencia (12:15 p.m. ET)
Real Betis vs. Real Madrid (2:30 p.m. ET)