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Match round-up - First Division, Day 23

Third placed Valencia opened up a gap of four points over Sevilla after beating Getafe 2-1 in this week's Monday night game. The Chés started well, Chori Domínguez bringing a couple of good saves out of Codina before setting up David Villa to open the scoring shortly before the break. Villa scored his second of the night after running on to Silva's through ball a few minutes after the restart, but soon afterwards the locals were left with ten men when Alexis picked up a second booking. Manu got one back after the ball fell to him in the area, and substitute Kepa came close to equalising a few minutes later, but Silva could have increased the lead when he shot wide with the goal at his mercy in time added on. (22.02.10)

Real Madrid stay two points behind Barcelona after a convincing 6-2 win over Villarreal on Sunday evening. Pellegrini was heavily criticised after the midweek defeat at Lyon, but his side went two up early on, Cristiano Ronaldo firing home a long free kick and Kaká converting a penalty after Marcano fouled Higuaín in the area. Marcos Senna pulled one back with another free kick, but a few minutes after the restart Higuaín got on the end of Cristiano Ronaldo's cross to score his side's third. Nilmar reduced the gap again after a passing move with Pires, but once again Higuaín beat Diego López after good work by Ronaldo and Marcelo. And Ronaldo featured again in the last two goals, setting up Kaká for the fifth and then winning a second penalty which Xabi Alonso drilled home. Pellegrini can rest a little bit easier, at least for a few more days.

Athletic Bilbao moved to within a point of the top six after a 4-1 victory over Tenerife earlier in the evening. Things went their way early on when Culebras was sent off for giving away a penalty on Toquero, Llorente converting the spot kick. And Toquero himself got the second after Llorente headed on a long punt by keeper Gorka Iraizoz. Soon after the restart Iraola added the third, the referee waving away appeals for offside. And Although Alfaro got one back for the Canary Islanders, Gabilondo volleyed home a fourth for the Basque side later on.

Osasuna are up to eighth after a 1-1 draw with struggling Valladolid. The goals came late on, with Medunjanin putting the visitors ahead with a spectacular volley, and Camuñas heading the equaliser from Rúper's cross with only four minutes left on the clock. Earlier though the woodwork had taken a beating, with Pandiani and Keko hitting the posts at either end, and Iranians Masoud and Nekounam also hitting the uprights either side of half time with a free kick and a long shot respectively.

The draw takes Valladolid to within a point of Zaragoza, who were beaten 1-3 by Sporting Gijón. The Asturians had lost their last four matches, but they went ahead when Bilic poked Lora's headed pass past Carrizo shortly before half time. Substitute Luis Morán added the second midway through the second half, jyust a few minutes after coming on. And although Arizmendi gave the locals a late hope with an injury time header from Pennant's cross, Barral wrapped things up after picking up a pass from Diego Castro just a minute later.

Sporting move up to eleventh, and Málaga are just a point behind them after a 2-1 victory over Espanyol. Fernando headed the Andalusians in to the lead from Duda's long free kick with just under a quarter of an hour gone, but Víctor Ruíz equalised after Toribio could only head back a Javi Márquez free kick on the stroke of half time. Iván Alonso had a penalty appeal turned down and Callejón hit the bar as the visitors started strongly after the break. But Obinna put the home side back in front after a corner fell to him, and they held on even though substitute Nakamura came close to levelling the scores near the end.

Atlético Madrid's topsy-turvy season continues though, and after beating Barcelona last weekend they lost 1-0 to Almería this Sunday. Diego Alves and Sergio Asenjo kept the scoreline unchanged with a series of good saves, and after Chico and Tiago rattled the crossbar at both ends it looked like the match was heading for a draw. But with four minutes to go Perea could only head a Cisma cross in to the path of Piatti, who drilled the ball back past Asenjo for what was to prove the winner. (21.02.10)

Barcelona bounced back after their first league defeat last week, beating Racing Santander 4-0 on Saturday to move five points clear at the top of the table. Iniesta opened the scoring with his first goal of the season after the defence failed to clear a long ball from Márquez, and Henry made it two with a low free kick which went right through the defensive wall. Before that Coltorti had to make saves from Messi, Maxwell and Bojan, and with just over half an hour gone Márquez scored his side's third with another free kick which went in off the post. Xisco had a goal disallowed for a positional offside before the break, but young substitute Thiago wrapped things up with a shot which deflected in off Henrique in the second half.

Later in the evening Sevilla consolidated fourth spot with a 1-3 victory at Mallorca. The Islanders had not dropped a point at home all season, and they took the lead when Borja Valero set up Mario Suárez early on. Jesús Navas equalised on a quick breakaway soon afterwards however, and although the Andalusians were left with ten men when Negredo was sent off for a tackle from behind on Martí, numbers were evened up when Ramis was also red-carded on the stroke of half time. Soon after the restart Dragutinovic put the visitors in front with a wide free kick, and Perotti made sure of the three points with a third goal a few minutes later.

Deportivo moved above Mallorca to fifth after beating bottom club Xerez 2-1 in the first match of the weekend. The Galicians appeared to be on the way to a comfortable victory when they went two up in only seven minutes, Guardado converting a third minute penalty after Moreno fouled Colotto, and Riki running on to a long pass to beat Renan for a second time. But Bermejo headed one back shortly before half time, and although Juan Rodríguez rattled the crossbar after the break, the result was in doubt right up to the final whistle. (20.02.10)