| Barcelona’s Gaizka Mendieta (left) and Deportivo Alaves’ Carlos Llorens battle for the ball during their Spanish League match on Sunday. (Reuters)
Madrid: Reigning champions Valencia lost further ground in the title race with a 0-1 defeat away to Athletic Bilbao in an untidy league clash on Sunday.
With the top three all winning on Saturday, Valencia were badly in need of a win to stay in the hunt for a successful title defence.
Joseba Etxeberria’s brilliant run and chip settled the game in Bilbao’s favour and left Valencia in fourth place, eight points behind leaders Real Madrid.
Rafa Benitez’s side are also being pressed from behind after fifth-placed Celta Vigo won 1-0 away to Atletico Madrid thanks to a late strike from defender Eduardo Berizzo.
Barcelona failed to make any progress in their quest for a European place, though, the Catalans turning in one of their worst performances of a wretched domestic season in a goalless draw at Alaves.
Real Madrid lead the standings with 54 points. Real Sociedad stay second on 53 while Deportivo Coruna keep third place two points further back. Valencia are fourth on 46, now just five points ahead of Celta Vigo and with 12 games remaining. Barcelona remain in ninth on 33 points, four points above the relegation zone.
In Milan, Inter Milan kept in touch with leaders Juventus thanks to a 4-0 home win over struggling Como in Serie A on Sunday with Christian Vieri scoring twice for Hector Cuper’s side.
The result moves Inter back to three points behind champions Juventus who beat Modena 3-0 on Saturday.
Third-placed AC Milan are now eight points behind Juventus after they were held to a scoreless draw at Reggina, also on Saturday.
Parma boosted their chances of making a bid for the fourth Champions League spot with an impressive 4-0 win at Chievo.
But Lazio, who hold fourth place, ended a run of six straight draws by beating Empoli 4-1 at the Olympic Stadium.
In Premier League action, Chelsea won 2-0 at second-from-bottom West Bromwich Albion to end their poor recent run, adds a report from London.
The result lifted Chelsea to fourth place — the last Champions League qualification spot — on 51 points, one more than Everton.