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Real, Atletico pressure Barca after taking 3 points each



Madrid, March 16 (IANS) Real Madrid will entertain FC Barcelona with a lead of at least four points after winning 1-0 away to Malaga in the Spanish Primera Liga Saturday night, Xinhua reported.

Cristiano Ronaldo's 23rd minute goal was the difference between the two sides but if Real Madrid had travelled south expecting an easy win against a side locked in the battle to avoid relegation they were in for a nasty shock as Malaga made them work every inch of the way and had an error-prone Madrid pegged back in their own half, especially after the break.

Ronaldo had chances to score a second goal and former Malaga midfielder, Isco should have done better when clean through on goal, but in the end the home side lacked the quality in the final pass and as a result, despite their courage, they failed to work Madrid keeper Diego Lopez.

Atletico Madrid remain three points off the lead as they responded to the challenge by beating a tough Espanyol 1-0 thanks to a second half goal from Diego Costa, who scored with a trademark low finish.

Barcelona are at home to Osasuna Sunday and have no option other than to win if they want to remain in the title race.

The day kicked off with Nolito's first half goal giving Celta Vigo a 1-0 win away to Levante in an exciting game in which both goalkeepers had outstanding performances and David Barral missed a penalty for the home side.

Rayo Vallecano took a huge step towards Primera Liga safety as they following last Monday's 3-2 win away to Real Sociedad with a 3-1 home win over Almeria. Alberto Bueno opened the scoring, before Larrivey scored two more to assure the points.

The result lifts Rayo out of the bottom three, but leaves Almeria staring at the abyss and coach Francisco Jose Rodriguez in danger of becoming the next top flight coach to lose his job.

Getafe and Granada drew 3-3 Friday night.

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