Real Madrid reached the halfway point of the season five points behind leaders Barcelona after beating Málaga 2-0 on Sunday evening. Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero and then the villain for Pellegrini's side, scoring his first two goals of the new year and then getting himself sent off in the second half after breaking Mtiglia's nose with a flying elbow. The Portuguese superstar finished off a rapid team move ten minutes before the break, and then struck a fierce volley wide of Munúa after Guti set him up soon afterwards. Before that however Duda's deflected shot had bounced off the crossbar, and Casillas had had a bit of work to do as well. Xabi Alonso and Granero could have increased the lead later on though, and Madrid cruised through to end the visitors' nine game unbeaten run and clock up their tenth consecutive home win in the league.
Valencia started their match at Tenerife earlier in the evening with a chance of catching Madrid in the table, although in they end they finished five points behind after the match ended without goals. It was a lively game though, the stars of the ninety minutes the two keepers who both produced a string of saves. The home side dominated the early minutes, César palming out a looping header from Nino and then saving from Alfaro as he advanced on goal. Aragoneses kept out Silva at the other end, and near the end he produced a reflex save from David Navarro's header as the visitors pushed for an eighth away win of the season. A fair result though, and Aragoneses and César congratulated each other as they walked off at the end.
Mallorca hold on to fourth spot after they drew 1-1 at Espanyol. The Islanders were grateful for the point though after levelling the scores late on with a hotly disputed penalty, Borja Valero converting the kick after referee Rubinos Pérez ruled that Víctor Ruíz had fouled Rubén inside the area. Espanyol's new signing Osvaldo produced a couple of nice touches before opening the scoring soon after the restart, Rubén blocking his first shot but his second effort beating Aouate. Verdú headed wide and Aouate touched a Callejón volley over the bar, but Ramis drove a free kick against the bar before Borja's late equaliser.
Getafe are up to seventh after a 1-0 victory over city neighbours Atlético Madrid, the 30 points they have clocked up to date their best ever tally at this stage of the season. Michel's side dominated the first half, with De Gea having to save from an Albín free kick and an effort from Soldado early on. Manu fired a good chance wide, but soon afterwards got on the end of Pedro León's cross to score what was to prove the only goal of the match. Atlético hardly troubled Codina all evening, and any hopes of a comeback ended when Paulo Assunçao was sent off for a second bookable offence midway through the second half.
Villarreal are up to the top half of the table after beating Zaragoza 4-2. The locals raced in to an early lead, Capdevila starting things off after Carrizo could only push Cazorla's shot on to the post. Rossi set up Nilmar for the second a few minutes later following Capdevila's throw-in, and the Italian striker added a third from Senna's pass with only a quarter of the game gone. The visitors fought back though after the restart, Eliseu getting on the end of Suazo's cross and Lafita poking home a second after Aizmendi battled through. But with three minutes to go Ibagaza finished off a quick Nilmar breakaway to ensure the three points for his side.
Racing Santander followed up their cup win with a 0-1 victory at Sporting Gijón, taking them to within a point of their opponents in the table. Coltorti was in action in the first minute to save from Luis Morán, but Tchité went close a couple of times and Gregory had to head off the line from Geijo with the keeper beaten. A minute before the break Geijo broke the ice after collecting a cross from Tchité, and Tchité could have added a second after the restart. But in the end Coltorti had to save the day with a point-blank save from Portilla, and the visitors held on for the last few minutes after Oriol was sent off after picking up a second booking.
Racing's cup rivals Osasuna stay level with the Cantabrians in the table after a 1-2 win at bottom club Xerez. Monreal opened the scoring for Camacho's side in the ninth minute after Renan pushed out a shot from Aranda, but Mario Bermejo headed the equaliser from Momo's cross a few minutes later. The Andalusians never looked like scoring again after that though, and ex Xerez midfielder Camuñas finished them off with a second goal from Juanfran's cross late on. It was a bad start for coach Gorosito, who was brought in this week by the new Argentinian owners to replace Cuco Ziganda. (24.01.10)
Barcelona ended the first half of the season unbeaten for the first time in their history after a 0-3 win at Valladolid on Saturday. Two goals in as many minutes midway through the first half set them on their way, Dani Alves sending over a cross which Xavi volleyed past Villar, and then scoring himself with another long cross which sailed over the head of the keeper in to the far top corner of the net. Valdés had to make a couple of important saves, in particular from a fierce Borja free kick, but Henry tested Villar with a spectacular scissors kick before Messi ran on to Ibrahimovic's pass to make it three.
Deportivo moved back up to fourth pending Sunday's games after a 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao. The Basque side had the better of the first half, Toquero having a goal ruled out for a borderline offside and ex Bilbao keeper Aranzubia making a first class save from Llorente. Early in the second half though Filipe opened the scoring for the locals, his brave lunge at Bodipo's headed pass costing him a badly broken ankle. Juca scored the second with a shot which ballooned off a defender over Gorka, and although Colotto turned Toquero's cross in to his own net, Valerón set up Pablo Alvarez for a third later on.
Sevilla are just a point behind Depor after a 1-0 victory over regional neighbours Almería earlier in the evening, the result ending a run of four league defeats in a row. Negredo got the only goal early on against his old side, Jesús Navas gifting him the easiest of chances after a back-pass by Acasiete got stuck in a puddle left by a heavy rainfall. The Spanish international striker had a goal ruled out for offside and then brought a good save out of Diego Alves either side of half time, but the visitors (who had not lost under new coach Lillo) could have saved a point had Palop not kept out Soriano after the restart. (23.01.10)