RONALDO FIRES REAL CLEAR AT TOP
Cristiano Ronaldo finally stood up to be counted in a Clasico as record-breaking Real Madrid took a giant step towards wrestling the Primera Division title from Barcelona's grasp after a 2-1 success at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
Ronaldo stepped up on this occasion, scoring a 73rd-minute winner that puts Jose Mourinho's men seven points clear of their old foes at the top of the table with four games remaining.
He struck just two minutes after Alexis Sanchez had bundled in an equaliser to cancel out Sami Khedira's equally scrappy first-half opener - a goal that set a new record for goals in a league season.
On Sunday, two goals in two second-half minutes from Arda Turan guided Atletico Madrid to a comfortable 3-1 win over Espanyol in the Primera Division.
Diego Godin had headed the hosts in front inside 10 minutes but Didac Vila replied for Espanyol with a fine finish shortly afterwards.
Arda restored Atletico's lead just before the hour mark with a stunning overhead kick and the Turkish midfielder extended the lead moments later as his left-footed shot crept past Cristian Alvarez at his near post.
Valencia consolidated third spot in the Primera Division and gained a confidence boost ahead of Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg with a comfortable 4-0 victory over nine-man Real Betis at the Mestalla.
Jonas Oliveira opened the scoring early on and, after Betis had lost Jose Antonio Dorado to a straight red card just before the hour, Valencia wrapped up the victory with goals from Sofiane Feghouli, Roberto Soldado and Pablo Piatti.
To complete a miserable night for Betis, they also had Jorge Molina sent off late on for protesting.
Racing Santander were sent one step closer to relegation while Athletic Bilbao creeped back into the European places with a 1-0 win.
Gaizka Toquero got the only goal in the 12th minute to leave Racing 11 points from safety with four games left to go, while Athletic go up to sixth place.
The result was perhaps harsh on Racing who created plenty of chances but, in keeping with a record that has seen them score only nine goals in 18 home matches, they could not find a breakthrough.
Carlos Vela's spectacular overhead-kick five minutes from time handed Real Sociedad a point from an entertaining 1-1 draw with Villarreal.
The visitors dominated for long spells in the first half and took the lead three minutes before the break as Marcos Senna fired in off the post from just inside the area.
Sociedad then had Claudio Bravo to thank as the Chilean keeper denied Marco Ruben and Cani to keep his side in the game after waves of attacks from the hosts.
The equaliser eventually arrived as Vela acrobatically turned in Xabi Prieto's header for his fifth goal in his last five games.
The Mexican's late intervention means that Sociedad stretched their unbeaten run to five games, but they did not start the game like a side high on confidence as Villarreal controlled possession.
Granada secured their first win in four games to move eight points clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win over Getafe.
Franco Jara put the hosts in front after 18 minutes as he latched onto Carlos Martins' great through ball and calmly slotted past Miguel Angel Moya.
Getafe only really had one clear-cut chance to get level when Inigo Lopez's slip allowed Diego Castro to stride through on goal, but he went for power rather than accuracy and sent his shot just wide.
Back to Saturday's action and both Sevilla and Levante missed the chance to move closer to their goals as they played out a 1-1 draw.
Sevilla dominated throughout, a surprise in the wake of their 5-1 midweek drubbing by Getafe, but only had the one goal to show for it from Alvaro Negredo.
Arouna Kone levelled before the break and, despite more Sevilla pressure, the home side knew it was not going to be their night when Negredo missed an 87th-minute penalty.
Sporting Gijon boosted their survival hopes with a vital 2-1 victory over nine-man Rayo Vallecano thanks to Mate Bilic's superb late free-kick.
Gaston Sangoy gave the hosts a deserved lead after 17 minutes and, although Mikel Labaka equalised six minutes into the second half, substitute Bilic's fine strike 12 minutes from time settled matters.
Victor Casadesus' first-half header sealed a 1-0 victory for Real Mallorca that consigned Real Zaragoza to their third defeat in four games and left their Primera Division survival hopes hanging by a thread.
The visitors had started brightly but Helder Postiga fired wastefully over after just two minutes before heading an even better chance from close range over 15 minutes later.
However, Mallorca's set-pieces troubled Zaragoza all day and Victor headed in unchallenged from Chori Castro's corner just after the half-hour.
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