Racing Santander and Hércules wrapped up this year's league programme with a dull 0-0 draw on Monday night. The Cantabrians had the better chances in the first half, with Rosenberg, Munitis and Colsa all trying their luck from long range, and Calatayud having to tip a Kennedy free kick away for a corner. The visitors were missing four players through suspension, but Trézéguet tested Toño before the break and Colsa blocked an effort from Fritzler on the line soon after the restart. The best chance of all however fell to Portillo, who rattled the woodwork with a free kick later in the second half. In the end though a point apiece to keep the two sides clear of the danger zone coming in to the Christmas break. (20.12.10)
Real Madrid stay two points behind leaders Barcelona after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sevilla on Sunday evening. Mourinho's side were missing the suspended Xabi Alonso and Marcelo, and their only real shot at goal in the first half came from Di María, Palop turning his effort round the post. The visitors had lost their last four league games, but they had the better chances up to then, Escudé heading a corner just wide and Pepe having to clear from in front of goal after Casillas failed to hold on to a Romaric free kick. Ten minutes in to the second half Negredo broke free only to shoot over the top, and a few minutes later Madrid were left with ten men after Carvalho picked up a second booking. However with a quarter of an hour to go Di María collected the ball on the left by-line after Zokora had deflected Pedro León's shot with his hand, and as Palop came out to him he found a gap to slot the ball in to the net. After that Mourinho shut up shop, and Sevilla hopes ended when Dabo was sent off for kicking Di María from behind.
Three headed goals from Simao free kicks were enough to give Atlético Madrid a 0-3 victory at Málaga, a result which keeps the Andalusians down in the relegation zone and takes Quique's side to sixth spot. Rubén had to keep out a first free kick from Reyes, but midway through the first half Simao found Tiago for him to head past the keeper. For a few minutes at the start of the second half the locals improved, De Gea saving a long shot from Rondón and Sebas Fernández heading a Rondón cross over the bar. But a few minutes later Tiago headed across for Dominguez to head down past the keeper, and three minutes later Tiago ran in to head another Simao free kick in to the net. Quincy did fire a late chance in to the side netting, but by then it was all over. The bad news for Atlético is that this was probably Simao's last league match before moving on to Besiktas. He will be missed.
Getafe are just behind their city neighbours in the table after they came from two down to beat Almería 2-3. The locals started strongly, Kalu Uche heading in Crusat's cross in the seventh minute. Codina had to save from Ulloa soon afterwards, and midway through the first half Ulloa collected a half-hit shot from Uche to poke the second past the keeper. But five minutes later Manu cut in from the right to pull one back, and Diego Alves kept out Gavilán before Miku picked up a loose ball to equalise after a shot by Pedro Ríos was blocked. The visitors were looking for a club record fourth win in a row though, and after Manu and Ríos tested Alves again, Boateng got on the end of Manu's cross to turn the ball past the keeper with his heel.
The other game on Sunday between Osasuna and Zaragoza ended without goals, leaving the Maños still firmly rooted to the foot of the table. The first chance fell to the away side, Sinama-Pongolle firing his shot at Ricardo. But after that the locals took control, Ponzio clearing a Soriano header off the line and Leo Franco keeping out a couple of long range efforts from Nelson. Lafita struck a shot over the bar after the restart and Aranda thought he should have had a penalty when Pinter pulled him over in the area. But after Lolo headed over the bar from Masoud's free kick the chances dried up, and the game petered out to a boring draw. (19.12.10)
Barcelona go marching on! Guardiola's side clocked up another big victory, beating city neighbours Espanyol 1-5 to move five points clear at the top pending Real Madrid's game on Sunday. Pochettino's side started the day in fourth place having won all their games at home this season, but they went behind early on when Pedro ran on to Messi's return pass to shoot low past Kameni. And a few minutes later Xavi got a second with a shot from wide on the right after his first effort had hit Dani Alves in the six yard box. Valdés had to be at his best to save from Callejón before the break, but Pedro made it three with an hour on the clock after Kameni could only push out a long shot from Messi. Two minutes later Osvaldo ran on to a long ball to pull one back, and the striker could have scored again when he shot straight at the keeper on a quick counter-attack. But after that David Villa took advantage of through balls from Messi and Xavi to add two more later on, and with the game won Guardiola took off Iniesta so the appreciative crowd could applaud his gesture in the World Cup final, when he dedicated his winning goal to his deceased friend Dani Jarque.
Earlier in the evening Villarreal beat Mallorca 3-1 to make sure of third spot for another week. The locals went ahead in the eleventh minute after Aouate saved from Cani, Borja Valero picking up the ball and crossing in for Rossi to head on to Cazorla for him to fire a shot wide of the keeper. Aouate saved again from Rossi minutes later, but the visitors equalised in their first attack, De Guzmán picking up Webó's cross to fire a dipping volley over Diego López. Before the break though Villarreal restored the lead with a controversial Rossi penalty after the referee ruled that Webó had deliberately handled the ball when Rossi's free kick hit his arm, and Nilmar made it three soon after the restart with a chip over the keeper after Valero had put him through. After that Laudrup's side hardly troubled Diego López, and Cani could have increased the lead had Aouate not kept him out later on.
Valencia came from a goal down in the last match of the day to beat Real Sociedad 1-2, taking advantage of Espanyol's big defeat to move ahead of the Catalans to fourth in the table. The Basque side took the lead with a Xabi Prieto penalty midway through the first half after David Navarro fouled Zurutuza in the area, and they could have gone further ahead had César not saved from Griezmann a few minutes later. However Tino Costa equalised on the stroke of half time with an impressive free kick which bent round the side of the defensive wall, and Mata could have put the visitors ahead with a shot which Claudio Bravo kept out soon after the interval. Real responded with a couple of efforts from Zurutuza and Sarpong, but the game appeared to be heading for a draw until Aduríz picked up a wayward clearance from Bravo in injury time and ran on past Mikel González to score.
Real's neighbours Athletic Bilbao are now sixth pending Sunday's games after beating Levante 1-2. Gabilondo put Joaquín Caparrós's side ahead in the ninth minute with a well struck free kick, but Caicedo equalised ten minutes later after running on to Xisco Nadal's pass and getting between Iraizoz and Aitor Ocio to score. The locals dominated after the break, Caicedo heading wide, Nano having a header cleared off the line by Aitor Ocio and Juanlu curling a corner on to the crossbar. But Athletic restored the lead when Javi Martínez headed in Orbaiz's free kick, and they held on against prolonged local pressure after that to tie up the three points.
Elsewhere Deportivo and Sporting Gijón drew 1-1, a result which left the locals in mid-table and the visitors still down in next to bottom spot. Aythami opened the scoring for the Galicians, firing a shot past Juan Pablo after the keeper blocked an effort from Colotto. Guardado (back in the team but injured again early on) had an effort saved by the keeper soon afterwards, and Valerón put Adrián through only for him to shoot straight at Juan Pablo. Manolo Preciado's side came back though with a couple of long shots from Eguren and a looping header from Barral which Aranzubia tipped over the bar, and with two minutes to go Lora lifted the ball over Rindaroy and crossed in for Diego Costa to equalise. (18.12.10)