Atlético's Thomas celebrates the winning goal versus Levante on Saturday night. / Ángel Gutiérrez

As feared, FC Barcelona's scoreless draw at Cornellà-El Prat on Saturday versus Espanyol allowed Atlético de Madrid to take over the top spot during Week 18 in La Liga. Barça and Atlético had been even on points, with the Catalans in first on goal differential, but this weekend's results had deep repercussions for both teams.

Atlético faced Levante at home on Saturday night and appeared headed to duplicate Barça's scoreless draw from earlier in the day, as the game reached the final ten minutes in the throes of a stalemate. But Thomas Partey, who had come on for Jackson Martínez, scored the game's lone goal just nine minutes from time to hand three points to the Colchoneros, thus giving them sole possession of first place.

Real Madrid went on the road to Valencia on Sunday night knowing that a victory would draw them even with FC Barcelona, but they twice coughed up single-goal leads and were lucky to salvage a draw that gives them a single point and keeps them in third place.

Karim Benzema put the Madrileños up after 16 minutes but Dani Parejo drew Valencia level from the penalty spot with the first half about to expire. Madrid's Mateo Kovačić was sent off in the 68th for a dangerous slide tackle, putting them a man-down for the home stretch. Gareth Bale scored on a brilliant header on a corner kick to put Madrid ahead with only eight minutes left, but Paco Alcácer answered back immediately with a header of his own. Álvaro Negredo was stoned by Keylor Navas on a breakaway in the waning moments, as the All Whites ended up feeling lucky to walk out of the Mestalla with a point under their belts.

FC Barcelona's next La Liga opponents, Granada, won for just the second time at home this season with a 2–1 triumph over visiting Sevilla. Isaac Success and Adalberto Peñaranda put Granada up 2–0 with goals on 17 and 37 minutes, respectively, while Sevilla were able to claw one back in first half injury time when Vitolo stuffed home a rebound following a shot by Kevin Gameiro.

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La Liga — Week 18

Valencia 2–2 Real Madrid

Ath Bilbao 2–2 Las Palmas

Deportivo 1–2 Villarreal

Betis 0–4 Eibar

Granada CF 2–1 Sevilla

R. Vallecano 2–2 R. Sociedad

Malaga 2–0 Celta Vigo

Atl. Madrid 1–0 Levante

Espanyol 0–0 BARÇA

Sporting v Getafe (4 Jan.)

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