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Barca extends lead as Atletico holds Real

BARCELONA returned to winning ways and extended its Primera Liga lead with a 2-0 home victory over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday while Real Madrid was held 1-1 by city rival Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The win opened up a six-point gap over chasing Real, whose 10-match winning streak came to an end.

Sergio Busquets' header and a Lionel Messi penalty gave Barca its first victory in six outings in all competitions ahead of the visit of Olympique Lyon in the Champions League. "To play well and win like this should give the fans a little more faith in the team," Barca coach Pep Guardiola said.

However, the victory came at a price with defender Carles Puyol leaving the pitch on a stretcher in the last minute with damaged ankle ligaments and now facing three weeks out.

In Madrid, Diego Forlan put Atletico ahead before the break and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar leveled in the 57th.

The visitors, who beat Barca last weekend, missed a host of second-half chances to claim their first derby win since 1999. "I'm pleased with the effort from the team, but it is a draw that feels like a defeat because of the chances we missed," Atletico coach Abel Resino said.

Barca has 63 points with 12 matches left. Atletico remains fifth on 40 behind champion Real (57), Sevilla (47) and Villarreal (45), which beat visiting Espanyol 1-0 courtesy of a Fabricio Fuentes first-half strike.

In France, Ligue 1 leader Olympique Lyon lost 0-2 to Lille at the Stade de France on Saturday and saw its advantage at the top cut to just one point.

Second-placed Paris St. Germain won 1-0 at Lorient. Third-placed Olympique Marseille drew 0-0 at home to lowly Valenciennes while Toulouse beat Girondins Bordeaux 3-0.

Lyon has 53 points ahead of PSG on 52 while Marseille has 49 ahead of Toulouse on goal difference.

It was the second time this week that Lyon, aiming for an eighth consecutive title, had lost to Lille after going down 2-3 in the last 16 of the French Cup on Wednesday.

Lille went ahead just before the hour mark when its Brazilian forward Michel Bastos crossed from the left wing and Slovakian striker Robert Vittek got in between the two central defenders to head the ball into the net.

Bastos himself scored the second goal in the 90th, capitalizing on hesitancy in the Lyon defense to intercept the ball and chip it over the goalie.


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