BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona took another step toward successfully defending its Spanish league title after winning at one of the toughest teams to beat in the competition on Sunday, while its rivals dropped points.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored as Barcelona beat Getafe 2-1. That allowed it to open up a five-point advantage over second-placed Atletico Madrid, which had to fight back for a 1-1 draw at third-placed Sevilla.
Real Madrid was the biggest loser of the round, defeated 2-0 at home to Real Sociedad in a match it finished with 10 men and 10 points behind Barcelona in fifth place.
With one round left before the halfway stage, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde isn’t ruling Madrid out.
“They are still in it,” Valverde said. “Mathematically they are still not out of it and we have to be prudent. We know the competitive DNA that Madrid has. And besides, there are other rivals like Sevilla and Atletico that are always tough.”
BARCELONA IN CHARGE
Leading the league in goals scored, Messi and Suarez have Barcelona looking like a champion-in-waiting.
Messi quashed a promising start by Getafe when he scored the 20th-minute opener. He raced forward to control a loose ball in the area, poked it between the legs of goalkeeper David Soria and slotted it home from a tight angle.
Suarez matched his teammate’s effort in the 39th when he planted his left foot as a pivot and used his right leg to rifle the ball from the edge of the area into the corner of the net with a waist-high volley.
Messi leads the league with 16 goals, followed by Suarez in second place with 12.
Jaime Mata pulled one back for Getafe just before halftime, but Mata missed a golden chance to level in the second half when he missed an open net.
Getafe had only lost once in its previous nine rounds and had conceded just one goal in its previous four home matches.