Neymar, Messi take Barcelona five points clear

La Liga leaders beat Espanyol 2-0 to increase gap to second-placed Real Madrid; Atletico thrash

    This was Barcelona's seventh consecutive La Liga win over Espanyol [Getty Images]
    This was Barcelona's seventh consecutive La Liga win over Espanyol [Getty Images]

    Neymar scored the opener to continue his rich vein of form as 10-man Barcelona won a one-sided La Liga derby against Espanyol 2-0, while a double from Antoine Griezmann helped Atletico Madrid to a 3-0 victory over Elche.

    Brazil's Neymar followed up his two goals against Paris St Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday by slotting home after Luis Suarez dummied a Jordi Alba cross inside the area to open the scoring after 17 minutes.

       P Pts
    Barcelona   33   81 
    Real Madrid   32  76
    Atl Madrid  33  72

    With Barca picking holes in the Espanyol defence, Lionel Messi doubled the lead from a tight angle after 25 minutes, before Alba was sent off early in the second half.

    The fullback was shown two yellow cards in succession after 53 minutes for a lengthy protest with the referee, but Espanyol failed to apply any concerted pressure on the Barca backline in the remainder of the match.

    Xavi came on for the final three minutes for his 500th La Liga appearance for Barca, who have moved five points ahead of Real Madrid at the top of the table.

    Deep in stoppage time Espanyol's Hector Moreno was also sent off after being given a second yellow card.

    Later, Griezmann's two goals helped Atletico put their Champions League exit behind them in order to concentrate on winning third-place in La Liga.

    The Frenchman now has 22 league goals in an impressive debut season at the Calderon after heading Atletico into the lead 10 minutes into the second half and then slotting home from close range 14 minutes from the end.

    In between a Raul Garcia shot from distance sneaked past the dive of keeper Przemyslaw Tyton and into the corner after 63 minutes.

    La Liga top-scorers:

    39 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
    36 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
    22 Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
    19 Neymar (Barcelona)
    17 Carlos Bacca (Sevilla)

    SOURCE: Reuters


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