Xavi reaches milestone as Barca close gap on Real

Sunday Atlético 3-0 Villarreal Osasuna 0-2 Racing Athletic 3-0 Levante Sporting 2-1 Málaga MADRID Barcelona playmaker Xavi celebrated his 400th league appearance by scoring the opening goal and Lionel Messi netted twice as the La Liga champions beat 10-man Real Betis 4-2 on Sunday to trim Real Madrid's advantage at the top back to five points.
Sunday Atlético 3-0 Villarreal Osasuna 0-2 Racing Athletic 3-0 Levante Sporting 2-1 Málaga MADRID Barcelona playmaker Xavi celebrated his 400th league appearance by scoring the opening goal and Lionel Messi netted twice as the La Liga champions beat 10-man Real Betis 4-2 on Sunday to trim Real Madrid's advantage at the top back to five points. Spain international Xavi, the first Barca player to reach the 400 milestone, clipped the ball high into an empty net in the 10th minute at the Nou Camp after a Cesc Fabregas shot had ricocheted back off a post. Pep Guardiola's side were cruising when Messi added a second two minutes later but Barca conceded their first league goals at home this season when a battling Betis struck either side of the break to make it 2-2. Betis defender Mario Alvarez was dismissed for a second yellow card 19 minutes from time before Alexis Sanchez ran on to a Xavi pass and fired a 75th-minute third goal and Messi scored from the spot in the 86th following a Betis handball in the area. "We managed to get through a very tough game," Xavi, a youth academy graduate who made his debut under former coach Louis van Gaal in a Spanish Super Cup game in August 1998, said in an interview with Spanish television. With just under half the season played, Real have 46 points from 18 matches thanks to their 2-1 comeback win at Real Mallorca on Saturday, with Barca on 41. Agencies

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