Mon, Apr 22, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Barcelona beat Sociedad, keeping big La Liga lead

AP, MADRID

Barcelona defender Jordi Alba, left, scores against Real Sociedad in their La Liga match at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday.

Photo: AP

Days after beating Manchester United to reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, Barcelona turned their focus to La Liga and defeated Real Sociedad 2-1.

Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba scored a goal in each half at Camp Nou as Barcelona kept a nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid, who had beaten Eibar earlier in the day.

The Catalan club can secure their eighth league title in 11 seasons by the middle of the week if they win at Deportivo Alaves and Atletico loses to Valencia at home.

That would leave Barcelona 12 points ahead of Atletico with only four games left and a better head-to-head record.

Lionel Messi and other regular starters were rested in the 0-0 draw against last-place Sociedad Deportiva Huesca last weekend as coach Ernesto Valverde prioritized the Champions League quarter-final second leg against United.

Barcelona want to seal the league title as soon as possible so that they can fully focus on the European tournament, which they have not won since 2015.

After beating United 4-0 on aggregate, they are next month to face Liverpool in the semi-finals.

Barcelona are also to play in the Copa del Rey final against Valencia on May 25.

On Saturday, Barcelona were far from their best, but they still had enough to earn the win.

Lenglet opened the scoring with a header off a corner just before halftime and Alba netted the winner with a low shot from inside the penalty area in the 64th minute, just a few minutes after Juanmi equalized from close range for the visitors.

Atletico Madrid had moved within six points of the lead with a 1-0 win at Eibar, when Thomas Lemar scored in the 85th minute.

The win left Atletico seven points clear of third-placed Real Madrid.

Atletico struggled to take control of the match at the Ipurua Stadium, unable to create many significant scoring chances until Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion broke free and sent a perfect cross for Lemar’s close-range shot by the far post.

RC Celta de Vigo took a step toward escaping relegation with a 2-1 home win over Girona.

Sofiane Boufal netted the 69th-minute winner for the hosts, who had opened the scoring with Iago Aspas in the 34th minute, before Portu equalized for Girona in the 48th minute.

The win moved Celta to 14th place, three points from the relegation zone.

Girona, who have lost five straight in the league, dropped to 15th. Their next match is at Real Valladolid, the first team inside the relegation zone.

Second-to-last Rayo Vallecano de Madrid were held 0-0 at home by last-place Huesca.

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