International Soccer - Spain

Atletico edges Elche to go six clear

Madrid, Spain ( - Atletico Madrid picked up a 2-0 win over Elche at the Vicente Calderon on Friday to move six points clear at the top of the La Liga table.

It looked as if Atletico would be made to settle for a draw after David Villa missed a penalty kick in the 50th minute of Friday's affair, but Miranda managed to get the hosts off the mark 22 minutes later.

Atletico made sure of the win late on when Cristian Sapunaru was sent off for a foul in the penalty area, which allowed Diego Costa to seal three points by converting the ensuing attempt.

Diego Simeone's side climbs to 85 points on the season to go six points ahead of second-place Real Madrid while Elche remains on 35 points.

Barcelona will hope to keep pace with Atletico when it welcomes Athletic Bilbao to Camp Nou on Sunday.

The Catalans, who enter their match seven points back of the leaders, have endured a difficult week, slipping further away from first place following a loss to Granada while surrendering the Copa del Rey title in a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid on Wednesday.

But Barca manager Gerardo Martino insists that life remains in his side.

"Obviously it is not a happy moment," Martino admitted after Wednesday's loss to Real Madrid. "It has been a very hard week for us, but there is nothing else we can do but look ahead to what remains in the league. It is a very hard blow to take because the expectations for today were huge and it is a final so everyone was desperate to win.

"I am hurting due to the defeat and for the people that came here with great expectations to support us, but Barcelona still has a lot left to give. There is no perfect recipe to recover. The league doesn't have a favorable look for us at the moment, but we have the obligation to fight until the last day."

Should Bilbao drop points at Camp Nou, Sevilla will hope to move to within three points of fourth place with a win against Granada on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, Celta Vigo heads to the Estadio Mediterraneo to face Almeria while Rayo Vallecano welcomes Real Betis to the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas for a match with major relegation implications.

Saturday's action will see Valencia head to Osasuna, Levante welcome Getafe to the Cuidad de Valencia and Real Sociedad square off with Espanyol at the Anoeta.

Monday's lone match will see Villarreal test its European aspirations with a stern test at Malaga.

04/18 16:50:18 ET