Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa celebrates his goal during their Spanish first division soccer match against Elche at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid April 18, 2014.
Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa celebrates his goal during their Spanish first division soccer match against Elche at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid April 18, 2014.Reuters

La Liga enters in its final stretch with just four games left. Leaders Atletico Madrid aim to defend their lead against second-placed Real Madrid and Barcelona. Los Rojiblancos now lead Los Blancos by six points - with a game in hand - and Barca by 4.

Atletico fired out a warning to Chelsea - ahead of tonight's first leg of the Champions League semi-final in Madrid - and stayed firmly on course for the La Liga title as they 2-0 won Elche – Joao Miranda's powerful header from a corner in the second half and Diego Costa's late penalty secured a crucial victory for the leaders.

If Diego Simeone's side win their next three league matches, they will be crowned La Liga champions before the visit to Barcelona on the final day.

Barcelona beat fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao in a 2-1 vital victory that keeps them alive in the title race.

After a week in which they were dumped out of the Champions League and then lost to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final, the Catalans suffered again to get the three points against the Basque side as they were far from their fluent best.

Athletic silenced the Camp Nou five minutes after the break when Aritz Dduriz scored with a great strike. But turned it around with two goals in three second-half minutes from Pedro and Lionel Messi.

Real were not in action over the weekend following Wednesday's Copa del Rey triumph over Barca in which Gareth Bale scored a stunning solo effort for the winner – their league match against Valladolid was postponed due to the busy Los Blancos' schedule.

However, Valladolid players expressed their disappointment and anger as they feel such a move is prejudicial against their chances of fighting for survival in the First Division.

Elsewhere, Sevilla warmed up for next week's Europa League semi-final against Valencia with an emphatic 4-0 win over Granada. Malaga are meanwhile virtually safe from relegation after beating Villarreal 2-0. Rayo Vallecano continued their march towards safety with a convincing 3-1 win over the bottom club Real Betis. And Almeria's relegation fears deepened as they slumped to a 4-2 home defeat to Celta Vigo.

Results:

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Elche

Barcelona 2-1 Athletic

Sevilla 4-0 Granada

Real Sociedad 2-1 Espanyol

Osasuna 1-1 Valencia

Levante 0-0 Getafe

Malaga 2-0 Villarreal

Rayo Vallecano 3-1 Real Betis

Almeria 2-1 Celta Vigo