First division - day 16
Barcelona moved a whopping ten points clear at the top of the table after coming from behind to beat Villarreal 1-2. Cani ran through to pick up Rossi's pass and open the scoring just three minutes in to the second half, but a few minutes later Keita got ahead of Diego López to head in a Dani Alves cross to equalise. And midway through the second half Henry turned in Xavi's cross to win the game and make it maximum points from the last four games against their closest rivals.
The race for the other European spots is wide open though, with only two points separating five sides. Sevilla are up to second in the table after a dull 0-0 draw at Mallorca, the point enough to take them above Atlético Madrid and Valencia. Diego Capel headed against the bar early on, but otherwise chances were few and far between. Mallorca themselves were happy with a point as well, the result taking them out of the relegation spots above Espanyol.
Deportivo are not out of the running for the European places either, a 4-1 victory over Recreativo taking them to within two points of Real Madrid and Villarreal. A Lopo deflection and a Sergio penalty put the Galicians two up within the first twenty minutes. And although Colunga got one back with a second penalty, Bodipo restored the two goal cushion before the break, and Filipe completed the rout in the last minute.
Valladolid drop four points behind Depor though after they lost 4-3 to Numancia. An early Barkero strike was soon overturned by two goals from Goitom and another from Vivar Dorado, and with seven minutes to go the visitors seemed to be cruising to victory. But strikes by Del Pino and Aranda levelled the scores, and Gorka Brit headed the winner in the last minute.
Seven goals as well in Pamplona, where bottom club Osasuna beat Getafe 5-2 to record only their second win of the season. Strikes by Plasil, Juanfran, Pandiani and Nekounam put the home side four up at the break. And although ex Osasuna striker Soldado came on to score twice after the restart, Héctor Font netted a fifth to take Camacho's team to within two points of safety.
Málaga inched above Getafe to ninth after holding Racing Santander to a 1-1 draw in the Sardinero stadium. Baha turned in Nacho's cross close to half time to put the Andalusians one up, but Valera headed in a Munitis corner to square the match midway through the second half. Both sides hit the woodwork in a frantic finish.
Sporting Gijón are level on points with Getafe after beating Almería 1-0. The visitors had several chances before the interval, but the one that counted was a header by Maldonado from Carmelo's cross on the half hour mark. A fifth game without a win signalled the end for Almería coach Gonzalo Arconada, who was fired shortly after the final whistle.
Athletic Bilbao are gradually climbing away from the danger zone however, and they moved above Betis to twelfth after a 0-1 victory over the Andalusians in the last match of the weekend. Javi Martínez headed in Susaeta's cross close to half time to make it ten points from the last four matches for the Basque side. (21.12.08)
Victories for both Madrid sides on the first day of the last weekend before the Christmas mini-break. Real Madrid beat Valencia 1-0 to move to within a point of their opponents in the table. Higuaín got the only goal of the match in the third minute after a good run by Robben, but Juande Ramos's side could have scored more, Van der Vaart and Higuaín both hitting the woodwork either side of half time. The Ches also had their chances, Villa going close a couple of times and Casillas pushing Baraja's header on to the post. But after Marchena was sent off for a second bookable offence their challenge ended.
Atlético Madrid took advantage of Valencia's defeat to move ahead of them to second spot after beating Espanyol 2-3 later in the evening. Maxi picked up Agüero's pass to give his side the lead in the seventh minute, but the locals had several chances before Sergio Sánchez equalised with just under an hour on the clock. Agüero restored the lead though with his side's second of the night, and with the game in injury time Maxi scored again to wrap things up. There was still time however for Valdo to get another one back, a goal which just keeps the Catalans out of the relegation spots pending Sunday's games. (20.12.08)