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Match round-up - First Division, Day 36

It looks as if the league title race will be going down to the last day after Real Madrid beat Mallorca 1-4 on Wednesday to stay within a point of Barcelona. Aduríz gave the home side an early lead, heading past Casillas after Víctor played back a corner. But Cristiano Ronaldo equalised ten minutes later, getting ahead of Aouate to lob a long ball from Sergio Ramos over the keeper's head and in to the net. Casillas had to save from Chori Castro and Aduríz before the break, but twelve minutes after the restart Ronaldo was there again to control another long pass from Ramos on his chest and poke the ball in to the net. With a quarter of an hour to go Ronaldo completed his hat-trick after cutting in from the wing past three defenders, and Higuaín wrapped things up late on, picking up Guti's pinpoint pass to lift a shot over Aouate. It was a record 30th league win for Pellegrini's side, and Madrid's hardest game from now to the end of the season ended in success.

Mallorca's defeat means that Sevilla climb above them to fourth after a convincing 1-5 win at Racing Santander. A desperate Miguel Angel Portugal made drastic changes to his line-up, but within two minutes they were behind when Negredo beat Coltorti after the keeper could only push out a shot from Jesús Navas. And midway through the first half Kanouté made it two from the penalty spot after Morris fouled Diego Capel inside the area. Capel set up Navas to head home the third just a minute after the restart, and two minutes later the two swapped roles as Navas put Capel through for the fourth. Substitute Tchité pulled one back on the hour mark, but then picked up a yellow card which will keep him out of the weekend relegation battle at Valladolid, and a few minutes later Morris got himself sent off for a second bookable offence. And with two minutes to go Negredo completed the rout with a spectacular volley, setting up a fascinating tie with Barcelona on Saturday.

Today's results mean that Valencia are assured the third Champions League qualifying spot, with Sevilla and Mallorca vying for fourth. Whoever wins through though, the other side is now sure of at least a place in the Europa League after Athletic Bilbao were held to a 1-1 draw by Málaga. Toquero battled past Iván González to give the Basque side a third minute lead, but after Valdo went close a couple of times, Duda levelled the scores with a "gol olimpico" directly from a corner kick. Munúa was in action after that to keep out Llorente, Susaeta and Toquero, but the visitors could have won it in the final minutes had Baha not chosen to try and score himself with two colleagues better placed. In the end a point apiece which leaves Athletic outside of the top six and Málaga just a point above the drop zone, level now with Racing on points.

Málaga and Racing are now a point ahead of Tenerife and three above Valladolid, who saw their unbeaten run under Javier Clemente come to an end after a 3-1 defeat at Atlético Madrid. Both keepers were in action early on, Jacobo saving from Cabrera and Juanito and Jacobo replying with stops from Pelé and Manucho, but the home side took the lead two minutes before the break when Juanito ran in to turn Jurado's cross past Jacobo following a corner. Manucho and Borja both went close after the restart, but a few minutes later Jurado waited for Nivaldo to make a hash of Forlán's cross before coolly slotting the ball in to the net. Forlán made it three soon afterwards after a Raúl García tackle came through to him, and Jonathan Sesma's goal four minutes later was scant consolation for the visitors. They now have a must win game against Racing on Saturday, but then end the season in the Nou Camp. Things are not looking good.

Zaragoza are virtually clear of danger though after a 1-0 win against Espanyol took them five points clear of the drop zone. Roberto had to be on his toes to tip an effort from Moisés over the bar in the opening minutes, but Adrián Colunga could have scored at the other end when his shot hit the side netting. Kameni did well to keep out Eliseu a few minutes after the restart, but the turning point came with a quarter of an hour to go when referee Iturralde González awarded a controversial penalty to the locals after Nico Pareja and Ander Herrera fought for the ball inside the area. Pareja was booked, his protests earning him a red card in to the bargain, and Colunga stepped up to drill home the spot kick.

Osasuna are mathematically sure of staying up though after a 3-1 win over Deportivo. With nothing to play for, Lotina put out a side containing some of his promising youngsters. Eleven minutes after the kick off though they fell behind when Camuñas headed the ball past Aranzubia after Pandiani headed back Aranda's cross, and although Riki made it all square four minutes later, Pandiani restored the lead with a shot which the visiting keeper let through his hands. Juanfran added the third with just over half an hour gone after Aranda put him through, and the game was already over. (05.05.10)

Barcelona kept on track for a second league title in a row after a 4-1 victory over Tenerife on Tuesday night. It was not the most convincing of starts though, and although Messi opened the scoring in the seventeenth minute after Ibrahimovic headed back a Dani Alves cross, Román equalised before the break after a mistake by Puyol let in Kome to set him up. Guardiola brought on Pedro at half time however, and midway through the second half Bojan picked up a pass from Dani Alves to restore the lead. Pedro made it three a few minutes later after the defence failed to cut out Messi's pass, and Messi himself completed the scoring in injury time to take his tally in the league this season to 31 goals. Real Madrid now have to win at Mallorca tomorrow if they are to stay in contention.

Valencia are virtually sure of taking third spot this season after coming from behind to beat bottom club Xerez 3-1. The visitors surprised their hosts at first, Orellana shooting over the top before Armenteros scored the opener after Bermejo set him up shortly before half time. Mata equalised though with a well struck free kick just before the interval, and twelve minutes after the restart the Spanish international forward got his second of the night after running on to Silva's pass to beat Renan once again. Silva himself scored a third a few minutes later, and after Redondo was sent off for a second bookable offence near the end, any hopes Xerez had of saving the match came to an end. The Andalusians are now five points away from safety pending tomorrow's matches, and if results go against them they could already be down.

Villarreal suffered a set-back in their push for a European spot, a 4-2 defeat at Almería leaving them outside of the top six by the end of the day. Crusat gave the locals the lead with an impressive shot on the quarter hour mark, and a couple of minutes later the visitors were left with ten men when Musacchio was sent off for a foul on Piatti. And when Kalu Uche added two more later in the first half, the game appeared to be over. Marcano got one back though after Diego Alves saved Llorente's header from Ibagaza's free kick soon after the restart, and numbers were evened up when Chico was also red-carded. Ibagaza narrowed the gap to one goal with a header following another free kick, but with the game in injury time Piatti made sure of the three points.

Getafe move ahead of Villarreal on goal difference, even though they could only draw at home to Sporting Gijón. Miguel De las Cuevas put the Asturians ahead in the seventeenth minute after running through to beat Codina, and Miguel and Carmelo both failed to convert chances later in the first half. Soldado had had a goal disallowed for a borderline offside before that though on his return to the side after a long injury, and just two minutes after the restart he scored a spectacular equaliser, beating Juan Pablo with an overhead kick from a Miguel Torres cross. Adrián González headed against the bar and Soldado had another effort saved later on, but Sporting held on for a point which takes them a little closer to another season in the top flight. (04.05.10)