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Match round-up - First Division, Day 22

Real Madrid kept up the pressure on leaders Barcelona with a comfortable 4-1 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday evening. Kaká started things off early on, taking advantage of a loose clearance to win the ball back on the edge of the area and beat Claudio Bravo. And with twenty minutes gone Cristiano Ronaldo collected a return pass to fire a shot past the keeper for the second. Tamudo could have got one back on a couple of occasions had he not come up against Casillas, and Griezmann volleyed a shot over the top. But with three minutes to go to the break Ronaldo got above the defence to head in a corner for his second of the evening, and the Portuguese forward came close to a hat-trick with a couple of efforts either side of half time. After the restart Kaká hit the bar, but the Basque side closed the gap again when Casillas blocked a shot from Tamudo only to see the rebound go in off Arbeloa. However Özil had a goal ruled out soon afterwards for offside, and with the game coming to a close Adebayor picked up a pass from Di María to beat Bravo for a fourth time.

Later in the evening Valencia beat regional neighbours Hércules 2-0 to move to within a point of third placed Villarreal. The Alicante based side have not scored away from home since late October, but Aguilar almost squeezed a shot past Guaita early on. Topal hit the post though later in the first half, and with a minute to go to the break Aduríz latched on to Soldado's cross to force a shot past Calatayud to open the scoring. The visiting keeper did well to save from Aduríz soon after the restart, but a few minutes later he could do nothing to stop a Tino Costa free kick from bending past him in to the net. Later in the second half Guaita made the save of the night from Fritzler, and with a few minutes to go Juanra cleared a shot from Soldado off the line with the keeper beaten. A fourth defeat in a row though for Hércules, and they find themselves level with four other sides just a point above the relegation spots.

Sevilla end the weekend in seventh spot after a 0-0 draw with bottom club Málaga, a position which will almost certainly yield up a third place in the Europa League after Barcelona and Real Madrid were confirmed as the cup finalists midweek. Manzano's side will be disappointed though that they could only take a point from their neighbours, whose only effort on goal in the first half was a shot from Baptista which was deflected wide. Luis Fabiano came close a couple of times before the break, and after the interval Alexis missed an easy chance and Kanouté, Rakitic and Perotti all failed to find the target. But with the game in injury time Weligton almost stole it for the visitors with a header which Palop had to be at his best to keep out. (06.02.11)

Barcelona made it an all-time league record of sixteen wins on the trot after beating Atlético Madrid 3-0 on Saturday evening. Guardiola's side had equalled the previous record set by Di Stéfano's Real Madrid last week, and with just over a quarter of an hour gone they went ahead when Leo Messi picked up the ball outside of the area and cut across to fire a shot wide of De Gea. Villa and Messi both went close soon afterwards, and Pedro brought a good save out of the keeper before Messi scored his second, Antonio López's attempted clearance from Villa's pass only allowing the Argentinian forward to win the ball back and clip a shot in off the post. For a few minutes Atleti started to come back, Tiago having a goal ruled out just before the break following a free kick which the referee considered to be taken too quickly, and Filipe Luis seeing his shot headed off the line by Piqué soon after the restart. But Messi and Pedro both could have increased the lead before Messi completed his fourth hat-trick of the season after Villa's cross fell to him in front of goal, taking his side ten points clear of Real Madrid pending their game on Sunday.

Third placed Villarreal were surprised by struggling neighbours Levante though, a 0-1 defeat leaving them still six points behind Real Madrid. Juan Carlos Garrido's team had only dropped two points at home all season, but they were pegged back from the start, with Stuani heading just wide and Diego López having to save from Juanfran. Rossi brought a good save out of Munúa close to half time, but immediately after the restart Stuani almost beat López before Valdo ran on to Xisco Muñoz's high pass to round the keeper and score. Rossi went close with a free kick after that, but the visitors could have added to their lead in the end. A second win in a row for Levante, and they are now only a point away from safety.

Athletic Bilbao are up to fifth after a 3-0 victory over Sporting Gijón, clocking up a fourth win in a row for the first time in thirteen years. Things swung in their favour on the quarter hour mark when Gregory picked up a second booking for a foul on Llorente in the area, David López stepping up to score from the resulting spot kick. The ten men sat back to defend, but ten minutes later a good run by Muniain ended with the new under 21 international laying the ball back for Toquero to score the second. Llorente headed against the bar and then steered another header wide either side of half time. And Cuéllar had to keep out Muniain and Orbaiz before Llorente got on the end of Susaeta's cross to score the third, definitively putting an end to Sporting's run of three wins in a row.

The Basque side move above Espanyol, who were beaten 3-2 by Almería. The locals were already two up in the first six minutes, Marcelo Silva flinging himself forward to head in a long Bernadello free kick on the far post, and Kalu Uche firing in a shot from right of goal which went under the legs of Kameni. Callejón brought a good save out of Diego Alves at the other end, but soon afterwards Bernadello got the third with a shot which deflected off Luis García to wrong-foot the keeper. The visitors got two back after that, Verdú drilling the ball in to the net after Alves pushed a shot from Callejón on to the bar, and Alvaro Vázquez getting ahead of his marker to turn in Chica's cross three minutes in to the second half. But although Alvaro came close to equalising later on, the visitors could not prevent a second defeat in a row.

Getafe got back to winning ways with a 4-1 victory over Deportivo, the first time they have taken the three points since the start of the new year. Michel lined up with a two-man attack, and Colunga caused some problems before his strike partner Miku headed on long ball for the forward to score the first in the twentieth minute. Before the half time whistle Colunga netted his second of the evening after Gavilán won the ball off Rubén Pérez in midfield, and Miku made it three after picking up a pinpoint pass from Gavilán before cutting past Zé Castro to score. Ten minutes after the restart Pedro Ríos scored his side's fourth after connecting with another assist from Gavilán, and Depor finally got one back from the penalty spot, Riki converting the kick after Víctor Sánchez fouled substitute Xisco on the edge of the area.

Osasuna and Mallorca played out a 1-1 draw, a result which left the locals a point above the drop zone and Michael Laudrup's side safely in mid-table. After their win over Real Madrid last week the Pamplona based side were in confident mood, and within eight minutes they went ahead when Miguel Flaño fired the ball back in to the net after Aouate could only push out a header from Aranda. Soriano came close to scoring a second, but later in the first half the visitors equalised, Chori Castro getting on the end of Pereira's low cross to steer an angled shot past Ricardo in to the bottom corner of the net. Pandiani hit the bar before the break and went close a couple of times after the restart, but the locals couldn't prevent the Balearic Island side from picking up their first point in four matches.

Zaragoza and Racing Santander also drew 1-1, leaving the home side two points above the relegation places and their opponents a point behind them in the table. The Cantabrians took the lead in the thirteenth minute, Christian losing his markers to head a long Kennedy free kick past Leo Franco. But Boutahar equalised later in the first half after running on to a long ball from Gabi, and the Moroccan forward had a header cleared off the line just before the half time whistle. After the interval Toño did well to save from Braulio and Sinama-Pongolle, and Adrián González went close a couple of times for the visitors, but in the end both teams settled for a point. (05.02.11)