MADRID, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- Barcelona moved to the top of the Spanish Primera Liga following a convincing away win over Malaga after the season's ninth round of games.
Midfielder Xavi Hernandez scored two goals and Leo Messi added another as Barcelona beat the home side, which had gone into the game with four consecutive wins, by 4-1. The last Barcelona goal was an own goal on a pitch made virtually unplayable by constant heavy rain.
The rain was a key factor in the Mestalla Stadium where the Valencia side crashed to a shock 4-2 home defeat to struggling Racing Santander. Valencia had started the weekend top of the table, but a hat-trick from Racing forward Mohamed Tchite was to prove decisive. David Villa and Joaquin scored for Valencia, who never adapted to a muddy playing surface.
Valencia is now joint third along with Real Madrid, who could only draw 1-1 away to Almeria. The deadlock in a tight and tactical first half was broken when Raul Gonzalez headed Real Madrid ahead following a cross from Gonzalo Higuain.
However, the home side, after not scoring in their last two games, reacted well in the second half and Pablo Piatti levelled from close range with nine minutes remaining.
Villarreal also kept the pressure on and moved into second place thanks to a 4-1 win in Bilbao.
A tight first half ended with the scores level at 1-1 and Athletic Bilbao's players will think themselves unfortunate not to have been ahead. However, Villarreal were to prove lethal on the break in the second 45 minutes, with Robert Pires, Santi Cazorla and a goal from substitute Jozy Altidore sealing the points.
Athletic have now lost their last five games and are deep in trouble second from bottom of the table.
Meanwhile in Madrid, Kun Aguero returned to the starting 11 and scored both goals as Atletico Madrid returned to winning ways with a straightforward 2-0 win over a very average Mallorca.
Sevilla missed a great chance to move into the top four as they let a two-goal lead escape them before losing 3-2 in Valladolid. Renato and Jesus Navas put Manolo Jimenez's side 2-0 up and they looked to be cruising to a win.
Everything changed just after the half-hour, when Luis Fabiano was shown a second yellow card for diving and Valladolid took advantage of the extra man. Jonathan Sesma pulled a goal back before the break and two goals from second half substitute Nestor Fabuian Canobbio gave the home side an unlikely win.
Elsewhere Sporting Gijon won their fourth consecutive game with a 3-1 win over Numancia. Recreativo Huelva and Getafe drew 1-1 anda Raul Tamudo goal was enough to give Espanyol all three points over bottom of the table Osasuna.
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