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Match round-up - First Division, Day 30

Everything is set up nicely for next Saturday's "clasico" after Real Madrid beat Racing Santander 0-2 on Sunday to move back above Barcelona on goal difference. The only real danger for Coltorti in the first twenty minutes was when Diop almost beat his own keeper with a back header from Granero's free kick, and Canales came close to putting the locals ahead against what will be his new side with a shot just wide of the post. Midway through the first half though Cristiano Ronaldo was felled by Moratón as he bicycled his way in to the area, and the Portuguese forward drove home the resulting spot kick to open the scoring. Neither keeper was really troubled after that until substitute Guti produced a defence splitting pass from his own half for Higuaín to run on and make it two, and Guti himself could have scored a third when he hit the bar late on. Twelve league wins in a row though for Pellegrini's side - will they make it a lucky thirteen next weekend?

Valencia consolidate third spot with a 3-0 victory over Osasuna earlier in the evening, and the Chés are now six points clear of fourth placed Sevilla. Unai Emery had to cobble together a makeshift defence after his only fit central defender Dealbert limped off with only a quarter of an hour gone, and only a good save by César prevented Aranda from giving the visitors an early lead. Villa headed wide and then had a goal ruled out for offside, and a couple of minutes after the restart Joaquín got on the end of Mata's cross to put the locals in front. The result was in doubt though until the last couple of minutes, when Villa turned in Pablo's cross for the second. But with the game in injury time Villa was brought down in the area by Ricardo, and the striker converted the penalty kick to complete the scoring.

Mallorca kept up their push for Europe with a 1-1 draw at Almería, but although they move level on points with fourth placed Sevilla, they stay behind them in the table on the head-to-head record. The Islanders will be grateful for a point though after falling behind to a Kalu Uche header in only the fourth minute. The locals should have added to their lead after that, Piatti heading a good chance wide and Cisma hitting the bar with a free kick after the restart. But with two minutes to go Webó got on the end of Ayoze's long cross to head the equaliser past Diego Alves and silence the home fans.

Villarreal are now only two points outside of the top six after they beat struggling Valladolid 0-2. Ángel thrashed home a spectacular opening goal from outside of the area in the ninth minute, and Llorente had a goal incorrectly disallowed a few minutes later after the referee thought he had handled in the area. Fabricio kept out Llorente again early in the second half, but Capdevila found Nilmar a few minutes later for him to head home the second. The defeat leaves Valladolid further down in the drop zone, and after rumours of late nights out drinking, the fans turned on their own players at the end.

Deportivo's plans for a return to Europe took another set-back however after a 3-0 defeat at Atlético Madrid in the last game of the weekend, and they ended the day a point behind Villarreal in eighth spot. Juanito got the first for the locals midway through the first half after Aranzubia blocked his first header, the defender hooking the ball in to the net after Jurado played it back in. Ten minutes in to the second half Aranzubia gave the ball away to his opponents, and although he kept out efforts from Agüero and Simao, Forlán headed the rebound back in to the net. Tiago added a third on the hour mark after Ujfalusi produced a sparkling run in to the area, and after that Quique decided to reserve his key players for next Thursday's Europa League clash with Valencia.

Getafe also lost ground on the teams above them after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Espanyol. Osvaldo hit the post for the visitors in the opening minutes, but with just under half an hour on the clock Manu connected with Pedro León's cross to force a shot under Kameni. Osvaldo levelled the scores though five minutes after the restart, driving an impressive shot over Codina and in off the bar after running on to a long pass from Chica. Either side could have scored after that, Callejón and Dani Parejo in particular going close, but in the end both sides settled for a point.

Bottom club Xerez still believe they can save themselves, and they dragged another point out of the Molinón stadium after a 2-2 draw with hosts Sporting Gijón. The Asturians took the lead when Renan misjudged Rivera's long pass under pressure from Diego Castro, the ball passing under his feet and in to the net. Bermejo equalised seven minutes after the interval after controlling a long pass on his chest before beating Juan Pablo, but Miguel De las Cuevas restored the lead soon afterwards after the keeper could only push out a long shot from Luis Morán. Ten minutes from the end though Alustiza intercepted a poor back pass by Rivera to make it all square once again, taking his side to within a point of Valladolid in the table. (04.04.10)

One week away from the big derby game, Barcelona moved three points ahead of title rivals Real Madrid pending their game at Racing on Sunday after beating fifth placed Athletic Bilbao 4-1. Guardiola put out a changed line up, with Bojan added to the team at the last minute after Ibrahimovic injured himself in the pre-match warm up. The early chances fell to Athletic, but midway through the first half Messi and Abidal combined for Jeffren to slide the ball in on the far post. And before the half time whistle Barça went two up, Puyol setting up Bojan to steer a shot inside Gorka's near post. Bojan got his second of the night a few minutes after the restart after another passing move with Messi and Abidal, and soon afterwards Messi got on the scoresheet as well after drilling Pedro's cross through the legs of the keeper. Susaeta got a consolation goal back after Yeste put him through, but Barça had tied up another three points which puts the pressure back on Madrid.

Later in the evening Sevilla finally put an end to run of eight games without a win, beating Tenerife 3-0 to return to fourth spot. Antonio Alvarez was in charge for the first time in the Sánchez Pizjuan, and he saw his side survive an early scare when Nino failed to convert an easy chance. Midway through the first half however Luis Fabiano put Kanouté away for him to open the scoring, and a few minutes later the Brazilian striker hit the bar from Drago's free kick. And with the first half coming to a close Luis Fabiano got the goal he was looking for after chesting down Renato's cross before turning a shot past Aragoneses. The Canary Islanders fought back after the restart though, Palop having to save from Dinei and Richi and Navarro clearing another effort from Nino, but with a couple of minutes to go young substitute José Carlos curled a free kick past the keeper to wrap things up.

Tenerife are now six points away from safety after Zaragoza beat Málaga 2-0 in the first game of the weekend. The locals dominated the first half, Gámez clearing off the line from Suazo and Munúa saving a header from Arizmendi before Ponzio picked up the ball outside of the area to beat the keeper and open the scoring on the stroke of half time. Roberto made a good save from Apoño, and Valdo shot over the bar after the interval, but with a quarter of an hour to go Arizmendi headed a long ball in to the path of Suazo for him to poke home his side's second. It was a second win in a row for José Aurelio Gay's team, and they move a point above their opponents as a result. (03.04.10)