Football

Title rivals maintain pressure on Real

Barca trounce Eibar as Sevilla edge out Osasuna in 4-3 thriller; draw sees Atletico lose ground on leaders

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all on target as Barcelona remain just two points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid with a 4-0 win at Eibar yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Sevilla separate the giants of Spanish football in second, just a point behind Real, after twice coming from behind to edge out rock-bottom Osasuna 4-3.

However, Real have a game in hand over their title rivals.

Barca's visit to the Basque Country was only eight minutes in when Sergio Busquets had to be carried off with ankle ligament damage after a dangerous challenge from Gonzalo Escalante that went unpunished.

"The good news about Sergio Busquets is that it doesn't look as serious as we first thought," Barca boss Luis Enrique told Spanish TV station Movistar.

The visitors were briefly unsettled as a fine save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen prevented Adrian Gonzalez giving Eibar a shock lead at the tiny 6,200 capacity Ipurua Stadium.

Yet, there was little doubt over the outcome once Denis Suarez, who had replaced Busquets, drilled home his first Barca goal into the far corner from outside the box on the half-hour mark.

Messi doubled their lead just six minutes into the second half when he swept home Luis Suarez's cross for his 28th goal in 26 games this season.

SEVILLA THRILLER

And Luis Suarez matched his strike partner as La Liga's top scorer this season with 15 when he robbed Florian Lejeune before slotting home at the near post 22 minutes from time.

Neymar hadn't scored from open play since October, but brought that run to an end by slotting home Aleix Vidal's low cross in stoppage time.

"A positive run of results means everything flows better, the players have more confidence," said Enrique after a fourth straight win.

"But we are still far off where we want to be."

At the El Sadar Stadium, Sergio Leon gave Osasuna a shock early lead before Sevilla captain Vicente Iborra levelled at 2-2 as he twice equalised either side of his own goal.

Osasuna were infuriated that Franco Vazquez's vital third goal for Sevilla was allowed to stand despite a push on Oriol Riera 10 minutes from time.

Pablo Sarabia's fine left-footed shot from outside the area sealed the points, but there was still time for Osasuna to pull another goal back when Kenan Kodro headed in from close range.

"The team did some good things and made mistakes, but from start to finish looked to win the game," said Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli.

"To finish the first half of the season with a record number of points (42) and be second fill us with excitement for what is to come."

Atletico Madrid lost further ground on the top three as they needed a spectacular Antoine Griezmann equaliser 10 minutes from time to secure a 2-2 draw at Athletic Bilbao.

Diego Simeone's men are now eight points back on Real.

Real Sociedad move level on points with Atletico in fourth as Juanmi's towering header 18 minutes from time handed them a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo. - AFP


LAST NIGHT'S RESULTS

Osasuna 3 Sevilla 4

Athletic Bilbao 2 Atletico Madrid 2

Real Betis 0 Sporting Gijon 0

Real Sociedad 1 Celta Vigo 0

Eibar 0 Barcelona 4

la ligabarcelonaSevilla FC