Real snatches win over Valencia; Luis Suarez brace lifts Barcelona


MARDID, April 30: Real Madrid ensured they remain in charge of the title race in La Liga with a dramatic 2-1 victory at home to Valencia on Saturday.

Madrid remained level on points with Barcelona, who won later in the day, but still have a game in hand, with four matches still to play to the Blaugrana‘s three.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring, heading home a Dani Carvajal cross on 27 minutes with Madrid’s only shot on target of the first half.

Ronaldo had the chance to add a second from the penalty spot before the hour mark but saw his effort saved by Diego Alves, and that had looked to be costly when Dani Parejo levelled against his former club with an 82-minute free kick.

But Marcelo made sure Madrid came away with victory when he fired home on 86 minutes.

Luis Suarez scored twice in the second half to help Barcelona keep pace with a 3-0 win at local rivals Espanyol,

Despite getting Neymar back from his three-game suspension, Barcelona were stymied in the first half and had to wait until five minutes after the break to open the scoring.

Suarez ended his five-game, 540-minute goal drought in all competitions — the longest of his time with Barcelona — with a sublime near-post finish.

Rakitic equalled last year’s total of nine goals in all competitions when he finished off a pass from Messi in the 76th minute, before Suarez rounded the goalkeeper in the 87th to seal the result.

Atletico Madrid scored three goals in the opening 18 minutes as they romped to a 5-0 win at 10-man Las Palmas, which keeps them ahead of Sevilla in third place.

Diego Simeone’s side, who face Real in the semifinals of the Champions League next week, made the perfect start at Estadio de Gran Canaria when Kevin Gameiro put them ahead inside two minutes as he swept in Saul Niguez’s cross from the left.

It was soon 2-0 when midfielder Saul headed in from a corner after 17 minutes, with Gameiro adding a third almost immediately from the restart following a break down the right.

Las Palmas managed to regroup for the second half, but then saw midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng sent off for a second caution on 65 minutes.

The hosts, though, managed to hold out until Atletico substitute Thomas Partey made it 4-0 in the 72nd minute.

Veteran forward Fernando Torres, who had replaced Gameiro just before the hour, completed the route with a close-range finish in stoppage time.

Granada became the second side to be relegated from La Liga after suffering a 2-1 defeat at Real Sociedad.

Tony Adams was named caretaker Granada boss on April 10 with the club having taken just one point from their previous six games, but three successive defeats under the former Arsenal captain see them exit the top flight.

Adams did at least see his side score for the first time since he took over, Adrian Ramos heading a 65th-minute equaliser from Dimitri Foulquier’s cross after former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela had put the home side in front on the stroke of half-time.

The visitors needed to win all of their remaining games to have a chance of survival but could not even hang on for a point, with Juanmi latching onto a pass from Sergio Canales to score the winner six minutes from time and condemn Granada to their ninth defeat in the last 10 games.

Osasuna had become the first side to be relegated from La Liga in midweek.