La Liga round-up
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Barcelona opened up a 12-point lead in La Liga with a narrow 2-1 over Albacete.Barcelona opened up a 12-point gap at the head of La Liga with a narrow 2-1 over Albacete.
The Catalans were not at their fluent best but a superb late volley from Xavi (pictured) clinched all three points at the Carlos Belmonte.
Barca made a dream start when Andres Iniesta robbed Paco Pena in his own box and slipped past Ronny Gaspercic with just over a minute on the clock.
The hosts responded well to the early setback but lacked a cutting edge up front.
However, they finally drew level 17 minutes from time when Mark Gonzalez got a deft header to steer in an inviting inswinging free-kick from Antonio Pacheco.
It was no more than Albacete deserved, and they would have moved ahead had Carles Puyol not made a crucial goal-line stop from Mikel.
However, a moment of brilliance won it for Frank Rijkaard's men - Xavi latched on to a headed clearance from David Sanchez and fired a swerving 20-yard effort into the bottom corner.
In Saturday night's other game, Athletic Bilbao edged past Atletico Madrid courtesy of a goal from Spain international Asier del Horno.
The decisive moment came on the stroke of half time when the full back converted Andoni Iraola's cross from the right at the far post - although there was more than a hint of offside about the goal.