Barcelona, May 2 (IANS) Atletico Madrid earned a tight 1-0 win at Elche to maintain their two-point lead at the top of La Liga with four games remaining, with second-place Real Madrid beating Osasuna 2-0.
Diego Simeone’s side survived a late penalty, missed by Fidel Chaves, as they battle for their first league title since 2014, reports DPA.
Atletico striker Luis Suarez came close in the opening stages and then the Uruguayan had a goal ruled out for a narrow offside.
Marcos Llorente fired the Rojiblancos ahead in the 23rd minute with his 12th league goal of the season from Yannick Carrasco’s cross.
Suarez had another ruled out for offside early in the second half as his team continued to dominate the game.
In the 90th minute Llorente turned villain when he handled the ball inside his own area and handed Elche a penalty kick.
However, Chaves fired it against the post to hand Llorente and Atletico reprieve, while Elche are 19th, in grave danger of relegation.
“We got the three points and that gives us a lot of strength for what is to come,” said Llorente. “We’re always positive and there’s not a long way to go, we have to give everything.”
Real Madrid were not intimidated by Atletico’s victory and started at a fast pace at the Alfredo di Stefano. Eden Hazard, on his first start since injury, was bright in the first half and was denied by a fine Sergio Herrera save.
The Osasuna goalkeeper was in excellent form and produced two further stops from Madrid defender Eder Militao, who twice sent powerful headers towards goal.
At the other end Thibaut Courtois had to react quickly to tip over Manu Sanchez’s cross which was creeping in.
Coach Zinedine Zidane, who started with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric on the bench with the Champions League semi-final second leg in mind, kept faith in his team to make the breakthrough and they eventually did.
Militao finally got his goal with a superb header from Isco’s corner in the 76th minute and Casemiro netted a fortunate second when his attempted control on Karim Benzema’s pass spun into the net.
Third-place Barcelona visit Valencia later on Sunday, while Sevilla, fourth, host Athletic Bilbao on Monday.