MADRID, April 21 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona moved a step closer to the Spanish La Liga title thanks to a 2-1 win at home to Real Sociedad in the 33rd round of games this weekend.
Barca never reached the heights of last week's Champions League triumph against Manchester United as Real Sociedad defended well in the first half and pressed for an equalizer in the closing moments of the match.
It wasn't until the 44th minute that central defender Clement Lenglet headed Barca into the lead.
Real Sociedad drew level in the 62nd minute after Juanmi slid the ball home following a good pass from Mikel Merino, but Jordi Alba produced an almost immediate response to secure the points with a right-footed shot, although there was a moment of uncertainty as the referee used VAR to confirm that Ousmane Dembele had not obstructed the view of visiting keeper Geronimo Rulli.
The win means Barca need just six more points to assure the title, which will happen next weekend if they beat Alaves on Tuesday and Levante next Saturday.
Atletico Madrid remain in second and nine points behind Barca thanks to Thomas Lemar's late winner away to Eibar as Diego Simeone's side showed they can get by without the suspended Antoine Griezmann.
Real Madrid took a morale boosting 3-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao, as striker Karim Benzema took advantage of Athletic missing their two injured right-backs and two horrible errors from keeper Iago Herrerin to score a hat-trick to continue his excellent run of form.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane gave defender Jesus Vallejo his first chance in the side since replacing Santiago Solari at the helm of Los Merengues and the youngster impressed in an assured display.
Getafe took an important and controversial step towards a top-four finish with a 3-0 win at home to Sevilla.
Los Nervionenses had kicked off a place and a point ahead of Getafe in the table, but were undone by two controversial handball penalty decisions by referee Mateu Lahoz, who also gave Sevilla defender Sergio Escudero a second yellow card for committing the second penalty, even though the ball clearly rebounded onto his arm off his head.
Jaime Mata scored the first penalty and Jorge Molina the second, before netting a third goal for Getafe to seal the win eight minutes after the break.
Valencia climbed into fifth as their excellent form continued with a 2-1 win away to Real Betis, whose own European ambitions are diminishing. Two goals from in-form winger Goncalo Guedes saw Valencia home, although Giovani Lo Celso's 78th minute penalty gave Los Che some worrying moments late on, especially after Rodrigo Moreno was sent off eight minutes from time.
In the battle against relegation, Iago Aspas scored the first goal of the game as Celta Vigo took a big step towards ensuring survival with a 2-1 win at home to Girona.
Portu equalized for Girona after 48 minutes but Sofiane Boufal's 69th minute goal saw Celta put daylight between themselves and third from bottom Valladolid, who drew 2-2 away to Alaves on Friday night.
Villarreal joined Celta in taking a big step towards safety, as goals from Carlos Bacca and Karl Toto Ekambi gave them a 2-1 win at home to Leganes, who scored a consolation goal through a late Nabil El Zhar penalty.
Levante claimed a valuable point with a 2-2 draw at home to Espanyol, who had twice led, but were pegged back by goals from Ruben Vezo and Ruben Rochina, who was sent off with 15 minutes left.
Finally, second from bottom Rayo Vallecano drew 0-0 at home to bottom side Huesca, a result which takes both sides a step closer to the second division.