La Liga round-up: Barcelona reclaim top spot as Atletico Madrid falter
Last Updated: 02/12/18 11:36pm
Barcelona returned to the top of La Liga with a comfortable 2-0 victory against Villarreal at the Nou Camp.
A first-half header from Gerard Pique and a late goal from youngster Carles Alena, who came on as a substitute, saw Ernesto Valverde's side return to winning ways domestically after defeat to Real Betis and a draw with Atletico Madrid.
Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic threatened for Barcelona but it was Villarreal who came closest to taking an early lead when hesitation between Clement Lenglet and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen allowed Gerard Moreno to get in behind and his shot struck a post.
Pique powered home a header from Ousmane Dembele's cross to open the scoring after 36 minutes and a couple of good saves from Sergio Asenjo either side of half-time to deny Messi and Arturo Vidal kept Villarreal in the match.
Valverde's team ensured victory with three minutes remaining. Messi dropped deep in midfield and played an excellent through-ball for Alena, who beat the goalkeeper with a lobbed finish.
A first clean sheet in 12 league games helped Barcelona back to the summit, where they stayed after Sevilla were unable to win at Alaves.
Sevilla would have regained top spot with a win but they are a point adrift of Barcelona after having to settle for a 1-1 draw against Alaves in the late kick-off.
Jony's close-range finish put Alaves ahead late in the first half before Wissam Ben Yedder tapped in the equaliser 12 minutes from time.
Earlier in the day, injury-hit Atletico Madrid failed to put pressure on Barcelona and Sevilla by missing the chance to temporarily move top of the league as they drew 1-1 at Girona thanks to a spectacular late own goal by Jonas Ramalho.
Atletico could have leapfrogged both teams but Diego Simeone's men had to come from behind at Estadi Montilivi. Cristhian Stuani opened the scoring with a penalty he won himself after being tripped by goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Atletico were missing captain Diego Godin, Juanfran and Filipe Luis, but the visitors avoided a first defeat in LaLiga since September 1 thanks to Ramalho's late own goal.
Angel Correa's wonderful long pass sent Diego Costa through on goal, the striker beaten to the ball by Ramalho, who could do little but poke the ball into his own net.
Junior Firpo's 33rd-minute goal was enough for Real Betis to win 1-0 at home against Real Sociedad.