Millennium Post

Fabregas late goal sees Barca through, Real win

Barcelona’s 1-0 win moved them to within two victories of mathematically sealing the title, but without the injured Lionel Messi they struggled to break down a resolute Levante until Cesc Fabregas stroked home the winner eight minutes from time.

Eric Abidal started for the hosts for the first time in 14 months following his liver transplant as Tito Vilanova rested a number of key players with Tuesday’s clash with Bayern Munich in mind.

However, they were denied the perfect start when Keylor Navas saved David Villa’s penalty after Pape Diop was very harshly judged to have brought down Andres Iniesta.

Barca continued to press for the remainder of the first-half but long-range efforts from Dani Alves and Villa were all that Navas had to deal with.

The pattern continued after the break and the visitors could even consider themselves very unfortunate not to go in front when Robert Aquafresca’s goal was wrongly ruled out for offside.

However, Barca’s pressure finally paid when Fabregas controlled substitute Alexis Sanchez’s pass inside the area and squeezed his low shot between the despairing Navas and the far post.

Real Madrid warmed up for their Champions League semifinal first-leg with Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu.  After a slow opening by the hosts they went ahead just before half-time when Mesut Ozil latched onto Karim Benzema’s through ball to slot home at the near post.

Benzema then made it two in similar fashion as he took advantage of Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass to beat Betis keeper Adrian, but Jorge Molina’s penalty halved the deficit for the visitors after Ruben Castro had been brought down by Nacho. Ozil settled Madrid’s nerves with a third goal in stoppage time to give his side all three points at St. Bernaebau.   
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