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Match round-up - First Division, Day 15

Valencia started their Monday night match against Osasuna with a chance to move up in to the Champions League spots, although they stay in fifth place after they were pegged back to a 3-3 draw by the Pamplona based side. The Ches were looking solid in the first half hour, Soldado opening the scoring from Mata's cross and Stankevicius firing home the second following Joaquín's corner a few minutes later. Juanfran got one back with a looping header, but two minutes Aduríz restored the two goal cushion with a near post header from another Joaquín corner. César (returning from a long injury lay-off) misread a long cross however on the hour mark, allowing Miguel Flaño to score in to an empty net, and Lekic almost equalised a few minutes later with a header which hit both posts before bouncing away. Osasuna did get their reward for their efforts though with three minutes to go when Aranda poked a shot past the keeper to level the scores, and the home players left the field to whistles from their own fans at the end. (13.12.10)

The gap between the top two and the rest increased to eight points after Barcelona and Real Madrid both won on Sunday night. Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 5-0 in the last match of the evening to clock up a ninth win in a row in the league, keeping them two points ahead of their rivals in the table. Within eight minutes they were in front, Villa turning Pedro's cross past Bravo from close up. And Pedro and Dani Alves both missed chances before Iniesta picked up Pedro's return pass to fire a shot inside the near post for the second. A minute after the restart Messi and Alves played ping-pong through the visiting defence before Messi finished things off, and Messi hit the post before picking up a short pass from substitute Bojan and running across the front of the defence to turn a shot back past Bravo for his second of the evening. There was still time for Bojan to get in on the act as well at the end, taking the aggregate scoreline over the last four league matches to a staggering 21-0.

Real Madrid won 1-3 at bottom club Zaragoza earlier in the evening though to keep up the pressure on the leaders. The locals started well, with Jarosik heading over and Lafita shooting wide. But with just under a quarter of an hour gone Ronaldo sent Marcelo away for him to set up Özil for the opener. Benzema had a couple of efforts saved and Lass fired a long shot just wide, with Lafita testing Casillas at the other end. But with half time coming up Özil was fouled outside of the area, and Ronaldo made it two with a trademark free kick. And just a minute after the restart it was game over after Di María ran on to a long ball from Xabi Alonso to lift a shot over Leo Franco. Gabi pulled one back from the penalty spot twenty minutes later after Carvalho brought down Bertolo, but Benzema and Lass could have added to the lead after that had Leo Franco not been on his toes.

Fourth placed Espanyol lost 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao though, despite taking a first half lead. The Catalans dominated the early minutes, with Luis García and Osvaldo forcing saves out of Gorka Iraizoz. And with just over half an hour on the clock Verdú slipped the ball through for Osvaldo to beat the keeper with an angled shot. Toquero could have equalised just before the break however when he shot wide when free on goal, and after the restart the Basque side took control. Llorente failed to convert a couple of chances and Kameni saved well from David López, and eventually Llorente equalised with a header from Susaeta's cross which Kameni could only deflect in to his own net. Five minutes later David López curled a free kick past the keeper for his side's second, taking them above neighbours Real Sociedad to eighth in the table.

Further down the table, Málaga drop back in to the bottom three after a 4-1 defeat at Hércules. Sebas Fernández put the Andalusians in front early on after Calatayud could only push out Duda's cross, and for a time the visitors were on top. But Valdez went close two or three times before the break, including a header against the post, and midway through the second half he crossed in for Trézéguet to stick out a foot and deflect the ball in to the net off his heel. That opened the floodgates, and in the next four minutes Drenthe converted a penalty after Peña was brought down by Recio, and Abraham Paz headed a third following a corner. Ten minutes after that Kiko ghosted through the defence to make it four, and Málaga were on their way home.

Sporting Gijón stay in next to bottom spot after they were held to a 1-1 draw by fellow strugglers Levante. The Asturians could not find the route to goal in the first half even though Diego Costa came up against Reina a couple of times. Sergio almost scored for the visitors though after the break, and with twenty minutes to go Caicedo got on the end of Juanlu's long free kick to squeeze a shot past Juan Pablo on the far post. Eight minutes later Sporting equalised, Eguren heading the ball down past Reina after good work by José Angel. But despite Nacho Novo's best efforts they could do no more, taking their run without a victory to a worrying eight games.

Racing Santander move away from the danger zone though after a last minute 0-1 victory at Mallorca. It was a dull match, long shots from Joao Victor and Rosenberg the only action before Toño had to save from Webó just before the interval. Colsa and Pereira tested the keepers after the restart, and Toño did well to stand up to Víctor Casadesus when he got free near the end. But with a goal-less draw the bookies favourite, Oscar Serrano came on for his first appearance in over six months to latch on to a return pass from Iván Bolado and curl a shot wide of Aouate to secure Racing's first away win of the season. (12.12.10)

Third placed Villarreal were beaten 1-0 by Getafe in the first match of the weekend, despite playing against ten men for over half the game and nine at the end. With Rossi suspended the onus rested on his strike partner Nilmar, and five minutes before the break the Brazilian forward forced Cata Díaz in to a red card after breaking away down the left. Nilmar and Cani both brought good saves out of Codina either side of half time, but Pedro Ríos shot wide and Miku had a goal disallowed for a dubious offside decision. The game appeared to be heading for a draw though until Casquero headed back a cross from Ríos allowing substitute Albín to fire a shot past Diego López with two minutes to go. Without thinking, the midfielder took off his shirt to celebrate the goal, earning himself a second booking and a red card. However Michel's side held on after that for a third league win in a row which took them up to the European spots.

Getafe's stay in the top six only lasted for a few hours though as Atlético Madrid edged past them on goal difference after a 2-0 win over Deportivo later in the evening. The locals had a chance to go ahead in the fifth minute when Aranzubia brought down Agüero in the area, but the keeper guessed correctly and saved Forlán's spot kick. However just three minutes later Agüero picked up a through ball from Reyes and cut past two defenders to fire a shot inside the near post to open the scoring. Aranzubia thwarted Forlán again when he pushed his free kick against the post later in the first half, but he could do nothing soon afterwards when Agüero picked up a return pass from Raúl García to make it two. Depor's only reply was an effort or two from Urreta before the break, and Agüero came close to completing his hat-trick in the second half with an angled shot which went just wide of the far post.

Sevilla have lost their way in recent weeks, and they stay down in tenth spot pending Sunday's games after a 1-3 defeat against regional neighbours Almería, their third defeat in a row at home and their fifth overall. Manzano's side started well, José Carlos hitting the bar and Kanouté seeing his penalty kick saved by Diego Alves after Vargas had handled in the area. But Palop had to keep out Jakobsen and Piatti before the break, and three minutes after the restart the visitors went ahead, the referee ruling that Vargas's header had crossed the line before Renato cleared it away. Alves did well to keep out Negredo and José Carlos after that, but with ten minutes to go Piatti picked up a pass from Uche and turned past Cáceres to fire a long shot in off the crossbar. Kanouté pulled one back almost immediately, but Alexis got himself sent off for a second bookable offence, and with the game in injury time Piatti turned Crusat's cross past Palop with his heel to give José Luis Oltra's side a much needed win. (11.12.10)