MADRID, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Atletico Madrid spent Saturday night on top of Spain's BBVA Primera Liga following a hard-fought 1-0 win away to Malaga.
Jorge Resurrecion's goal 20 minutes from time following good work by Diego Costa made the difference between the two sides and was also the first goal scored in the Liga in 2014.
The fact that FC Barcelona don't play their game at home to Elche until Sunday means the win lifts Atletico three points clear at the top of the table, although goal difference means that a win for Barca will lift them back on top.
On the second anniversary of taking over at Atletico Madrid, Atletico coach Diego Simeone praised the effort of his entire squad saying the win had been "really hard work and very difficult."
"If it had not been for the substitutes who came into the game, maybe we would not have taken the points," said the coach, who added that he expected Barcelona to win their match against the Primera Liga strugglers on Sunday.
Juan Antonio Pizzi made his debut as coach of Valencia in the city derby at home to Levante and Pablo Piatti and and Sofiane Feghouli with goals after 42 and 73 minutes assured he enjoyed a winning start.
Valencia showed a much higher level of physical commitment that in recent games and Feghouli scored a magnificent individual goal in order to assure the three points stayed in the Mestalla Stadium.
Valladolid and Betis played out a dull 0-0 draw in which both sides appeared to be more frightened of defeat than willing to try and win. The result was a true reflection of a dull game played in freezing conditions in the Nuevo Zorilla Stadium.
Almeria got off to the New Year with a winning start as they won their local derby at home to Granada.
Sebastian Dubarbier opened the scoring after 14 minutes from close range and from a possibly offside position and Verza made it 2-0 after 28 minutes after Fernando Soriano had his shirt pulled in the Granada penalty area.
The second half saw Alex Vidal make it 3-0 with just over 10 minutes remaining after running unmarked into the visitors' area. The result helps lift Almeria away from the relegation zone and they now sit just behind Granada in the league table.