La Liga round-up

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Barcelona opened up a 12-point lead at the head of La Primera, but left it late to beat Levante 2-1.

All appeared to be going to script for the leaders when Alexis deflected in a Deco free kick shortly before the half-hour mark, but Camp Nou was silenced when the visitors replied on 60 minutes through Jofre.

However, the Catalan giants ensured they signed off before the Christmas break with a win when Samuel Eto'o pounced for his 13th of the season four minutes from time.

Barca started well and Deco missed an early chance after good work from Ronaldinho. 

The Portuguese star made amends, though, on 28 minutes when he fired in a quickly-taken free kick that Alexis - in trying to stop - managed to divert into his own net.

Despite taking the lead the hosts failed to find their trademark fluency, and Vladimir Manchev spurned an opportunity to send Levante in level at the break.

Juliano Belletti thought he should have had a penalty shortly into the second half, but the referee waved away his protests after he went down in the area under challenge from Inaki Descarga.

Levante levelled on the hour mark when former Barca player Jofre collected a pass from Felix Ettien and drilled past Ruben who was standing in for the suspended Victor Valdes.

Barca pressed for a winner and Eto'o went close but could not convert after Levante keeper Juan Mora had only parried a shot from Messi.

With time running out, and the pressure building, the Cameroon star did eventually find the breakthrough, collecting on the edge of the box before turning and firing home a superb rising right-footed effort to clinch the points.

In the night's other game, Real Betis put the disappointment of last weekend's derby defeat behind them to beat Atletico Madrid 1-0.

The match was settled by an early Joaquin strike, with the winger - widely tipped to be playing his last game for Betis - collecting an Edu pass before racing on to fire a shot past Leo Franco from 12 yards on seven minutes.

Los Verdiblancos had Juanito sent off for his second booking 12 minutes from time, but Atletico could not take advantage to force an equaliser although Peter Luccin did hit the post in stoppage time.

Match summaries:
Barcelona 2-1 Levante
Real Betis 1-0 Atletico Madrid

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