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Barcelona held by Valencia

Barcelona dropped points in La Liga play for just the third time this season as it was held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia at the Mestalla on Sunday.

The Catalans came into the match having won 19 of its 21 league contests this term and an 11-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid. That lead has now dwindled to just nine points as Barcelona climbs to 59 points for the season.

The La Liga leaders were on the back foot from the start and paid the price as Valencia grabbed the lead in the 32nd minute. A failed clearance from the Barcelona backline fell to Ever Banega, who took one touch to control before firing a low shot past Victor Valdes at the near post.

It did not take Barcelona long to equalize as Tito Vilanova's side claimed a penalty in the 39th minute when Pedro was impeded in the box. Lionel Messi converted the ensuing attempt for his 33rd league goal of the season.

Valencia looked the more likely side to nab a winner in the second half, but Los Che was lacked the finishing touch necessary to take all three points, leaving the club in sixth place on 34 points for the season.

Atletico Madrid 1, Real Betis 0

Madrid, Spain - Atletico Madrid closed the gap at the top of the table on Sunday, edging out Real Betis in a 1-0 victory at the Vicente Calderon.

The lone goal came at the hour mark as Diego Da Silva Costa put the home side in front with his third goal of the campaign.

It proved to be all Atletico would need to improve to 50 points and move within nine points of first-place Barcelona. Real Betis, which has lost two in a row, drops to fifth place in Spain's top flight.

Malaga 1, Real Zaragoza 1

Malaga, Spain - Malaga and Real Zaragoza scored 10 minutes apart to split the points in a 1-1 draw at La Rosaleda on Sunday.

Helder Postiga opened the scoring in the 13th minute, but it was canceled out shortly after by Isco's converted penalty.

The draw sees Malaga retain fourth place by improving to 36 points on the season while Zaragoza moves to 24 points with its second successive league draw.

Sevilla 2, Rayo Vallecano 1

Seville, Spain - Alvaro Negredo's 10th goal of the season proved to be a pivotal one as it helped Sevilla claim a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday.

Ivan Rakitic put Sevilla in front before Alejandro Dominguez converted a penalty to draw Rayo level, but it was Negredo's strike in the 53rd minute that proved to be the difference.

Sevilla has won two in a row to improve to 29 points, five points shy of Rayo Vallecano.

Real Sociedad 3, Mallorca 0

Aragon, Spain - Real Sociedad capitalized on playing with an extra man for most of the match at the Anoeta on Sunday, cruising to a 3-0 win over 10-man Mallorca.

The visitors had Javier Moreno Marquez sent off in the 28th minute, but Sociedad only managed to break through in the 55th minute through Gonzalo Castro. The floodgates opened and La Real extended the lead thanks to Carlos Vela in the 70th and Diego Ifran two minutes from time.

Real Sociedad is unbeaten in its last four to go to 33 points while Mallorca's four straight losses leaves the club second from bottom in the table on 17 points.

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