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Barcelona fight back to keep title hopes alive

Monday, 21 April 2014 - 11:34am IST | Place: Madrid | Agency: IANS

Madrid: FC Barcelona came back from a goal down to defeat Athletic Club Bilbao 2-1 at the Camp Nou Stadium to keep alive their hopes of retaining the La Liga title.

It promised to be a difficult night for Barcelona after losing the Copa del Rey final, crashing out of the Champions League and losing to Granada in the league a week ago. There was a tense atmosphere Sunday during the first half when both sides, but especially Barcelona, wasted chances to score, reports Xinhua.

Things got worse for the home team and there were protests from the stands when Aritz Aduriz put Athletic ahead with a neat finish. That provoked protests from the fans.

But the fickle jeers turned to cheers in two minutes when first Pedro Rodriguez and then Lionel Messi, with a free-kick, put the team in front in the 71st and 72nd minutes to leave Barcelona four points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid.

Sevilla took advantage of Barcelona's win to close the gap on fourth place Athletic to three points as they strolled past Granada 4-0. Athletic entertain Sevilla next Sunday and the winner of that game will be a clear favourite to qualify for next season's Champions League.

An own goal in the first half pus second half strikes from Kevin Gameiro, Mbia and Vitolo were enough to see Sevilla strolling home against the side which defeated Barcelona eight days back.

Rayo Vallecano had an easy 3-1 win at home to Betis and should now be safe from relegation. Rochina, an own goal and yet another strike from Joaquin Larrivey, his 11th of the season, took Rayo to 40 points.

Celta Vigo are also just about safe from relegation after a brace from Nolito helped them to a convincing 4-2 win away to Almeria. Rodri and Oscar Diaz scored for the home side while former Almeria striker Charles and Orellana netted Celta's other two goals.

The round ends Monday night when Malaga entertain Villarreal while Real Madrid's game away to Valladolid, which should have been played this week, will be played in May.

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