Talk of a Barcelona collapse might have been premature as its defense, which had allowed eight goals in its previous three games, contained Athletic
Bilbao, and the Catalan club cruised to a 2-0 win that lifted its lead over Real Madrid to six points. Real Madrid's string of 10 wins ended on Saturday when it was held to a 1-1 draw at home
Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan
scored his 18th goal of the season for Atletico late in the first half, but Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
equalized early after the break.
Barcelona, which had lost its previous games, won on goals by Sergi Busquets
and Lionel Messi
The only bad news for Barcelona was that defender Carles
could miss the next three weeks out because of twisted ankle ligaments suffered in the 90th minute.
One of the reasons given for Barca's defensive problems has been
the absence of French left back Eric Abidal
, which forced Puyol to move from the middle of the backline to the left side.
With Abidal still
out, Brazilian Sylvinho
should line up on the left against Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Struggling Valencia's problems
continued as it blew an early lead and fell to lowly Numancia, 2-1.
Beset with financial problems, Valencia got more bad news when its star, Spain striker David Villa,
hurt his knee in training.