By Noah TanFollow @@Noah_Tan
With the win, Barcelona maintained their 11 point lead at the top of the La Liga table even as Atletico Madrid comfortably beat Real Zaragoza 2-0 to put some semblance of pressure on the Catalan giants.
However, defending Spanish champions Real Madrid's hope of retaining their title looks to have all but evaporated as they were held to a goalless draw with lowly Osasuna. Real Betis' hope of a spot in next season's Champions League were boosted as they eased to a 2-0 win over Levante, but they cannot yet relax as Rayo Vallecano ensured they would remain a mere three points behind Pepe Mel's men with a 2-1 win over struggling Athletic Bilbao.
Meanwhile, Espanyol moved out of the relegation zone with a vital 1-0 win over Celta Vigo, Valencia continued their improvement under new coach Ernesto Valverde with a 2-0 win over Sevilla, Real Valladolid claimed their first win in five games over Mallorca with a 3-1 victory, and Real Sociedad had to share the spoils with Deportivo La Coruna as both teams battled to a 1-1 draw.
Elsewhere, Getafe was denied all three points with a last-gasp goal by Guillherme Siqueira as Granada fought the Azulones to a 2-2 draw.
Here, ESPNSTAR.com selects the best players from the La Liga this week. The formation chosen is 3-4-3.
GK: Francisco Casilla (Espanyol)
Reportedly a transfer target for Arsenal, Casilla would have given his chances of moving to a bigger club a huge boost with a solid display in goal. The 26-year-old was a dominant force in his penalty area, coming out to collect any crosses launched into the box and showed great confidence in handling the ball throughout the game.
Although much attention will be showered on Espanyol striker Sergio Garcia for scoring the winning goal, the Periquitos could not have earned the victory without Casilla, who made several smart stops throughout the game, including a smart reflex save from an Iago Aspas header, to keep Celta from scoring.
CB: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Real may have been criticised for being held to a goalless draw by cellar-dwellers Osasuna over the weekend, but things could have been much worse for Los Blancos if not for the contributions of Varane. Despite his tender years, the 19-year-old played with the guile and cunning of a much more experienced player, reading the game well and making several crucial interceptions to stop the likes of Kike Sola and Juan Francisco Martínez from making inroads.
More impressively, Varane's calmness in the face of pressure ensured that he did not give away possession cheaply and he distributed the ball very well from the back. Mourinho may not have got the victory he wanted, but the solid performance of Varane in defence will at least provide some form of consolation for him.
CB: Guilherme Siqueira (Granada)
The name of Siqueira will undoubtedly be on the lips of every Granada fan after the Brazilian defender admirably held his nerves under immense pressure to convert two penalties and earn a vital point for his side, with the second of his spot-kicks coming during the last minute of the game no less.
Apart from his penalties, Siqueira led his team from the back, charging forward often to support the attack but also remaining mindful of his defensive duties. He was commanding in defence and the Getafe players found precious little joy when attacking down his channel.
CB: Ruben Gonzalez (Osasuna)
Coming up against the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Luka Modric and Angel Di Maria may sound like a daunting task, but Gonzalez showed on Saturday that he was more than equal to the task. The 30-year-old was reliable when called upon and did very well to cut out several dangerous looking crosses. His crunching tackles also made the Real forwards think twice before attempting to dribble past him and he could hardly be beaten in a one-on-one situation.
LM: Arda Turan (Atletico Madrid)
Much has been made of the attacking prowess of Radamel Falcao and Adrian Lopez for Atletico that the immense contributions made by Turan to the team have often gone unnoticed. Turan has consistently been the silent playmaker for Los Colchoneros and although he may not get himself many goals or assists, his excellent build up play in the attacking third often helps open up opposition defences for his speedier team-mates to exploit.
The Turkish international proved to be the catalyst for Atletico's comfortable win over Zaragoza and was heavily involved in the passage of play that led to the corner from which Tiago scored the opening goal. Turan's quick feet in the box then forced Cristian Sapunaru to bring him down and concede a penalty which Falcao duly converted.
CM: Juan Rodriguez (Getafe)
Rodriguez showed that he was no stranger to the physical side of the game with a battling, tenacious display in the middle of the pitch for Getafe. His passing, while simple, was very effective and he kept his side's play moving fluently. The 30-year-old made numerous tackles in the middle of the pitch to win possession for his side and used the ball well whenever he had it.
The 30-year-old compounded his outstanding display with a rare but deserved goal as he showed great bravery to challenge, and win the ball from Granada custodian Roberto before doing the simple task of poking the ball into the unguarded net.
CM: Tiago (Atletico Madrid)
Tiago was one of the shining stars in Atletico's win over Zaragoza, with the 31-year-old keeping his side on the front foot for majority of the game with some outstanding playmaking work, creating numerous chances for Falcao and tormenting Blanquillos defenders with his slick passing.
Unfortunately for Atletico, Falcao was not having the best of days in front of goal, and they had Tiago to thank for taking matters in his own hands. The playmaker scored the opening goal which put his side in the lead and helped serve as a launch pad for Atletico's victory, showing great determination to get ahead of his marker to flick home Gabi's corner at the near post in the 31st minute.
RM: Patrick Ebert (Real Valladolid)
Ebert was one of the key figures in Valladolid's win over Mallorca, with the 25-year-old winger proving a constant threat down the right flank for the Pucela. Ebert's crossing range and vision was apparent in this game and Mallorca left-back Pedro Bigas had a tough time trying to contain the effervescent winger.
Unsurprisingly, Ebert was the hero for Valladolid as he scored two and provided an assist as he tore open Mallorca with ease. The German opened the scoring with a screamer from the edge of the area which left Mallorca goalkeeper Dudu Aouate clutching at air. Ebert then ripped Mallorca's backline into shreds two minutes from time with a raking through pass for Oscar Gonzalez to score. Ebert then made sure that his side would get all three points with a goal deep into injury-time as he raced onto an Alberto Bueno through pass before showing great composure to stroke the ball home.
ST: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Is it any surprise that Messi is once again included in our La Liga Team of the Week? The Argentinian wizard wove his magic for Barcelona once again and proved to be the inspiration for the Blaugrana's win over Malaga on Sunday.
The 25-year-old celebrated winning his fourth successive Ballon d'Or award in the only way he knew how: by scoring. Messi took only 27 minutes to break the deadlock when he intercepted Nacho Camacho's sloppy backpass, coolly twisted past Malaga custodian Wilfredo Caballero before slotting the ball into an empty net.
Messi, possibly the best all-round forward the world has ever seen, then turned provider, lofting a pinpoint chipped through ball for Cesc Fabregas which completely caught the Malaga defence out, and the former Arsenal player calmly placed the ball into the right corner of the net. If Malaga thought that was the end of Messi's magic, they were severely wrong. Messi once again made a fool of Los Boquerones by cleverly setting Thiago up to score Barcelona's third goal.
ST: Roberto Soldado (Valencia)
It is fair to say that Valencia would have found themselves mired in a relegation battle at this stage of the season if not for the goal scoring exploits of chief striker Soldado. The 27-year-old, recently linked with a move away from the club, reminded his potential suitors of the qualities he possessed with a fruitful shift up front which yielded two well-taken goals.
Soldado's first goal showcased his uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time as he anticipated an Adil Rami flick-on from a Pablo Piatti corner to score from close range, while his second goal displayed his aerial prowess as he rose highest to power a header home from Ever Banega's corner.
ST: Ruben Castro (Real Betis)
Betis' main striker showed once again why he is on the radar of several top clubs with yet another accomplished performance upfront. He was a real handful for the Levante defence, showing great strength to hold the ball up on his own and effectively linking-up play with his teammates throughout the game.
Castro was heavily involved in his side's first goal against Levante, doing fantastically to launch a devastating counter-attack by running half the length of the pitch with the ball before laying off a fantastically timed through-ball for Joel Campbell to score. Castro then ended all hopes of a Levante comeback with a superb goal in the 63rd minute, expertly turning Sergio Ballesteros in the box before accurately placing the ball into the bottom corner of the net.