Top three win to take Primera Division title to the wire

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It remains unchanged at the top of the Primera Division with the title race set to go down to the wire after victories for Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid on Saturday.

The two clubs from the capital kept up the pressure on Barcelona with wins earlier in the day but the reigning champions responded on Saturday evening with a 2-0 success at 10-man Real Betis.

Second-half goals from Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez ensured Barcelona returned to the top of the table, ahead of Atletico on goal difference and in front of Real by a point, with two matches of the season to go.

Rakitic made the most of a calamitous defensive error from the hosts to put Barca ahead in the 50th minute after Heiko Westermann was sent off for Betis for a second booking in quick succession just before the break.

Primera Division top scorer Suarez then grabbed a 35th league goal of the season, finishing off a sumptuous pass from Lionel Messi in the 81st minute.

Real were the first of the title protagonists to play and Gareth Bale was their hero for the second week running as the Wales international headed home the only goal in a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad.

The former Tottenham forward nodded in Lucas Vazquez's cross with 10 minutes remaining. There was a nervy final few minutes for Madrid, however, and it took a diving save from Keylor Navas to prevent David Zurutuza from grabbing an injury-time equaliser.

Bale's 19th goal of the season in the league and his ninth header, more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues, decided a tense game at Anoeta against a Sociedad side who had beaten Barcelona earlier in the month.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were still injured for Madrid and, with the Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City looming next Wednesday, head coach Zinedine Zidane rested Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Jese, Pepe and Toni Kroos.

Atletico responded and replaced their city rivals at the summit after another 1-0 win but they were made to work hard for the victory by a stubborn Rayo Vallecano side battling for their lives at the other end of the table.

Diego Simeone, who had to watch from the stands as he served the first of a three-match touchline ban, made seven changes to his starting line-up and it disrupted Atletico's rhythm.

Koke, Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres were all introduced early in the second half and it proved a master stroke on Simeone's part as Griezmann immediately pounced on a loose ball, controlling it on his chest before hitting a left-foot shot into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box.

La Liga
Real Madrid

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