Real Madrid found themselves at the top of the first division on goal average before they even kicked off after Valencia lost 2-0 to Deportivo on Saturday night. However, they didn't need Valencia's help to thrash Oviedo 4-0 in front of some of the biggest names in football, with Figo receiving the European golden ball award before the game. Figo opened the scoring himself in the first half but Oviedo held fast until Morientes got the second after the interval, and then substitutes Munitis and McManaman made it four, with Macca's flying volley one of the best of the season. Madrid lead the table by three points with a game still in hand. Oviedo have set a new negative record, failing to score even one goal away from home in the first half of the season.

Two goals in the last seconds of the game by Pandiani and Makaay gave Deportivo a 2-0 victory over erstwhile leaders Valencia. The visitors played the last half hour of the game with ten men after Adrian Ilie was sent off for a second bookable offence. Depor move up to within a point of Valencia.

Barcelona also scored twice in injury time to seal a 3-1 victory over Valladolid and keep to within a point of Deportivo, despite playing all the second half with ten men after Abelardo was sent off. Kluivert gave them the lead soon after the break, but Caminero levelled scores three minutes later. However a Guardiola free kick and an individualist goal by Rivaldo gave them the three points.

There were high scoring matches all round, with fifth placed Mallorca running out 4-3 winners in a thrilling game against Alavés. Two from on-form Ibagaza and others from Marcos and Novo took them to a 4-1 lead with ten minutes to go, but Javi Moreno added two to Tomic's earlier strike to keep the game on a knife edge.

Rayo Vallecano held on to sixth spot with a comfortable 0-2 victory against Numancia. Poschner opened the scoring in the first half and Luis Cembranos, making his first start for four months, added a brilliant second after the interval.

Málaga moved up to seventh after an early Canabal goal gave them a 0-1 victory at Racing. Referee Fernández Marín pulled a muscle and had to retire early on, with the fourth official, a very young second division B referee, taking over.

In fact all five bottom clubs lost, with Celta beaten 2-0 at Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao winning 0-2 at Toshack's Real Sociedad, the first time that Bilbao have won the Basque derby in 15 games. Etxeberria got both goals. Osasuna lost a high scoring game to Zaragoza 4-2, with Esnaider getting a late penalty.

Espanyol are just above the five now after losing 1-0 at Las Palmas. New signing Nishizawa came on for the last quarter of an hour in a match broadcast live in Japan. (14.01.01)

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