Atletico tighten grip at top, Messi makes new record

MADRID, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) — Atletico Madrid took a big stride towards this season’s La Liga title with a 2-0 win away to Real Sociedad on Tuesday, while Barcelona’s Lionel Messi set a new record of 644 goals scored for a single club.

Real Sociedad started the game three points behind Atletico after last weekend’s results, but after an even first half, Mario Hermoso opened the scoring three minutes after the break with a powerful header after slack defending from a free kick.

Marcos Llorente doubled Atletico’s lead with a thumping left-footed shot 15 minutes from time.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman fielded three central defenders and two wing-backs for his side’s visit to Real Valladolid and was rewarded with a comfortable 3-0 win.

Clement Lenglet opened the scoring with a thumping header from a corner in the 21st minute, before Martin Braithwaite finished off a flowing team move 10 minutes before half-time.

Lionel Messi scored Barca’s third 25 minutes from time, setting a new record for goals scored for a single club (644) to beat the long-standing landmark set by Pele.

Barca thus move up to fifth behind Villarreal, who were held to their fifth draw in six games by a battling Athletic Bilbao side.

Inaki Williiams, whose 18 year-old brother Nico was in the Athletic squad for the first time, opened the scoring in the 19th minute as the Basque outfit controlled the first half.

Villarreal upped their game after the break and scored a deserved equalizer 16 minutes from time thanks to substitute Yeremi Pino’s powerful volley at the far post.

After a creditable draw away to Barcelona on Saturday, Valencia returned to their struggles with a 1-0 defeat at home to Sevilla, who claimed three points that keep them in the battle for the top-four thanks to a goal from Suso 10 minutes from time.

The Spain international latched onto a through-ball, cut inside a defender and hit a powerful shot that Jaume Domenech got a hand to, but was unable to keep out of the net.

Huesca continue with just one win all season after they drew 1-1 at home to Levante.

Javi Ontiveros put Levante ahead from the penalty spot after VAR spotted a handball from Ruben Vezo, but in a misty ground, Gonzalo Melero equalized seven minutes into the second half following a corner.

Osasuna twice took the lead away to Elche thanks to Ruben Garcia and Darko Brasanac, but twice saw how the home side pegged them back thanks to Fidel and Guido Carrillo, with Osasuna midfielder Inigo Perez sent off in injury time.

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