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La Liga: Barcelona restores lead, Betis grabs late winner

FC Barcelona v CD Leganes - La Liga

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 20: Ousmane Dembele of Barcelona (11) celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal with Luis Suarez (9) during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and CD Leganes at Camp Nou on January 20, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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Barcelona restored its five-point lead at the top of the La Liga table thanks to a 3-1 victory over Leganes on Sunday.

Ousmane Dembele opened the scoring, poking a right-footed effort off the inside of the post and in just beyond the half-hour mark. Leganes, meanwhile, owned just one shot through the first half. They visitors at the Camp Nou managed to draw level through Martin Braithwaite in the 57th minute as Allan Nyom delivered a brilliant long-ball down the right to Youssef En-Nesyri who crossed for Braithwaite on the doorstep.

Luis Suarez restored Barcelona’s lead 14 minutes later, but it was all thanks to some Lionel Messi magic. The four-time Ballon d’Or winner ripped a brilliant curler from outside the top of the box that forced a spectacular save from Ivan Cuellar, but he only barely got to the shot, popping it up into the air and falling right at the feet of Suarez who tapped in. Messi would get his own in stoppage time to kill off the game, working a back-and-forth with Jordi Alba before finding space near the penalty spot for an easy finish.

Overall, Barcelona held 72% possession and out-shot Leganes 15-5. The win put Barcelona at 46 points at the top of the table, five above Atletico Madrid and 10 clear of Real Madrid.

Elsewhere, Real Betis earned a big three points, keeping them alive in the crowded Champions League race. Sergio Canales scored a penalty in the 94th minute to win 3-2 over Girona. Both teams held leads at one point in the match, as Cristian Tello put Betis in front just 12 minutes in before Girona took control on goals by 21-year-old Aleix Garcia and 31-year-old Seydou Doumbia before halftime. After the break, Lorenzo Morón brought the game back level, a scoreline which held until stoppage time as Canales powerfully deposited the penalty into the lower left-hand corner after Douglas Luiz had fouled Giovani lo Celso.

The win for Betis pushes them up to 7th in the table on 29 points, with fourth placed Sevilla just four points ahead at 33, and Real Madrid in third on 36 points.

Athletic Bilbao and Villareal both settled for a disappointing point in a 1-1 draw. Karl Toko Ekambi rescued the draw for Villareal after Jaume Costa put one in his own net early in the first half. Still, either side would have preferred the win in the crowded relegation battle. Athletic moved to 13th on 23 points with the draw, while Villareal is stuck in 19th on 18 points.

Levante earned a big 2-0 home win over Real Valladolid thanks to goals by Coke and Roger Marti, each coming at the end of a half. The victory pushed them to 26 points, sliding them into 10th place.

Rayo Vallecano was minutes away from a big win that would have brought them out of the relegation zone, but Brazilian striker Willian Jose scored in the 82nd minute to rescue a point for Real Sociedad and leave Rayo in 18th on 20 points.

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