MADRID: Barcelona remain top of the Spanish league after their top-of-the-table clash with Atletico Madrid failed to live up to its billing and finished goalless.
Lionel Messi and Neymar started the game on the bench and even when both emerged in the second half, neither were able to give their side an attacking edge against a highly disciplined Atletico outfit, though Messi forced one of few saves from Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with 10 minutes remaining.
Diego Simeone’s men showed marginally more ambition than their visitors, their best chances falling to Diego Costa, who never gave Victor Valdes too much trouble, and Arda Turan, who should have made the Barca stopper work harder when presented with a rare shot on goal in the second half.
There were a couple of nervy moments for the hosts in injury time as Barca circled the area, but the Atleti defence held on.
Athletic Bilbao tightened their grip on fourth place with a resounding 6-1 victory at home to Almeria.
Midfielder Mikel Rico opened the scoring with just six minutes played and Ander Herrera doubled the lead just four minutes later.
Aymeric Laporte made it 3-0 just after the half-hour mark, but Helder Barbosa gave Francisco Javier Rodriguez’s side faint hope by scoring before half-time.
However, further goals from Aritz Aduriz put the hosts further ahead and a double from substitute Ibai Gomez completed the rout.
Two goals by Brazilian striker Charles earned Celta Vigo a valuable 2-1 win against Valencia in their bid to avoid relegation from the Primera Division.