Barcelona closer to securing second in Spanish league

Xavi Hernandez head coach of Barcelona prior the LaLiga EA Sports match between UD Almeria and FC Barcelona at Juegos Mediterraneos on May 16, 2024 in Almeria, Spain. 

Barcelona have strengthened their grip on second place in LaLiga with a double from Fermin Lopez seeing off bottom club Almeria.

Barca boss Xavi was taking charge of his 100th league match at the club and Lopez made sure there was something worth celebrating as he delivered a 2-0 win.

Lopez scored a goal in each half for Barcelona, who opened a four-point gap to third-place Girona with two rounds to go. Second place guarantees a spot in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Barcelona close their league campaign by hosting Rayo Vallecano and visiting Sevilla, while Girona travel to Valencia and are at home to Granada.

"It's a clear victory that moves us closer to our goal of finishing in second place," Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said.

It was the third win in four matches for Barcelona, who are 14 points behind already crowned champions Real Madrid. Madrid defeated Alaves 5-0 on Tuesday.

Almeria, who have only 17 points from 36 matches, remain without a home victory in the league this season. Their only two league wins came at Las Palmas and at Rayo Vallecano.

Real Betis were held to a 2-2 draw at Las Palmas in a match where playmaker Isco left with an injury after a hard knock in the first half.

Coach Manuel Pellegrini also lost midfielder Guido Rodriguez because of a muscle injury early in the game.

Betis entered the round in sixth place and in a fight for the European qualification spots. They dropped to seventh after Real Sociedad beat Valencia 1-0 later on Thursday with a goal by Andre Silva three minutes into the match.

Sociedad had won only one of their last five matches, against Las Palmas.

Sociedad visit Betis in the next round.

"We are not happy but we played a good game," Pellegrini said. "We lost two important players and had to make two early changes."

Isco, who is expected to make Spain's squad for the European Championship, went off in the 39th and Rodriguez in the 20th because of their injuries.

Betis are unbeaten in six matches, with four wins and two draws.

The result halted an eight-match losing streak for Las Palmas, who sit 14th. They haven't won in 12 straight league games.

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