Messi's brace sees Barca top Eibar

Eibar, Spain ( - Lionel Messi scored in either half to lead Barcelona to a 2-0 victory at Eibar on Saturday.

The Catalans went in front just after the half-hour mark following Borja Ekiza's hand ball in the box, which allowed Messi to fire home from the spot on the ensuing penalty attempt.

Messi then doubled the advantage 10 minutes into the second half by capitalizing on some slack marking to nod home a corner kick form Ivan Rakitic, sealing the win and sending Barcelona four points clear of second- place Real Madrid.

Atletico Madrid was held to a 0-0 draw at Espanyol on Saturday to drop the reigning La Liga champions to fourth place in the table on 56 points.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men just before halftime when Miranda received a straight red card, and they failed to cope with the disadvantage as Diego Simeone's men left the Estadi Cornella-El Prat with a third successive draw.

Rayo Vallecano rallied from an early deficit to collect three points from a 3-1 home win over Granada on Saturday.

Jhon Cordoba handed Granada the lead after eight minutes, but a second-half brace from Alberto Bueno and a late strike from Adrian Embarba saw the hosts walk away from the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas with a vital win.

Joaquin Larrivey scored a second-half goal for Celta Vigo, but it was not enough to help his side claim three points as a penalty from Aritz Aduriz and a goal from Mikel San Jose handed Athletic Bilbao a 2-1 win at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos on Saturday.