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Messi puts Barca four clear

Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona overcame some nervy moments to beat relegation-threatened Tenerife 4-1 at the Nou Camp and move four points clear of bitter rivals Real Madrid at the top of the Primera Division standings.

Madrid travel to fourth-placed Mallorca tomorrow night in what looks like the hardest remaining fixture for Manuel Pellegrini's side. And they will need to win it after Barca saw off the Canary Islanders thanks to goals from Messi (2), Bojan and Pedro.

But it was harder than many had expected and Barca were forced to work for their win after Tenerife had cancelled out Messi's opener through Roman Martinez's strike.

Tenerife's vastly inferior goal difference leaves them below Malaga, who occupy the last safe position and who have a game in hand.

Elsewhere, Juan Mata struck twice as Valencia guaranteed themselves a top-four finish after bouncing back from a goal down to defeat bottom club Xerez, whose Primera Division status is now hanging by a thread.

Xerez stunned their high-flying hosts by taking a 37th-minute lead through Emiliano Armenteros, but Mata netted twice either side of half-time to put Los Che in front.

David Silva then ensured the points would be staying at the Mestalla with Valencia's third midway through the second period. Mata was the provider before Xerez were reduced to 10 men late on when Juan Redondo was sent off.

Valencia are now nine points ahead of fourth-placed Mallorca, who have a game in hand and a better head-to-head record.