Real Madrid CF will head into Saturday's Clásico at the Santiago Bernabéu ahead of rivals FC Barcelona on goal difference alone after overcoming Real Racing Club 2-0 thanks to efforts from prolific pair Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuaín.
Manuel Pellegrini's side required all three points in Santander to head into the biggest match on the Spanish calendar ahead of the European champions, and they ensured their position at the summit with a 12th successive Liga triumph. They were given an early scare, though, as Sergio Canales, who will join Madrid in the summer, lobbed wide with Iker Casillas out of his goal after 15 minutes.
Racing were made to pay for that miss by Cristiano Ronaldo eight minutes later, the Portugal forward dusting himself off after being clipped by José Moratón Taeño in the area and firing in from the penalty spot. Los Merengues could not truly relax until 14 minutes from time when Higuaín surged through the offside trap to slide in his 24th league goal in as many appearances.
Valencia CF cemented their grasp on third place with a 3-0 taming of CA Osasuna that moved them eight points clear of Sevilla FC. All the goals came after the interval, Joaquín's 48th-minute breakthrough followed up by a David Villa double in the dying moments – taking his league tally to 20 this season. Not to be outdone, Los Che's UEFA Europa League quarter-final rivals Club Atlético de Madrid also triumphed 3-0, getting the better of RC Deportivo La Coruña.
In the hunt for a UEFA Champions League berth, RCD Mallorca moved level on points with Sevilla courtesy of Pierre Webó's 88th-minute leveller in a 1-1 draw at UD Almería, with Villarreal CF five points back in seventh following their 2-0 win at Real Valladolid CF. Elsewhere, Getafe CF were held 1-1 by RCD Espanyol and bottom side Xerez CD earned a 2-2 draw at Real Sporting de Gijón.
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|Last updated: 02/07/2011 07:01 CET|
Diego Costa 38, 60, 63
|Venue: San Sebastian|
Rubén Suárez 9, Stuani 6, 71
|Venue: La Coruna|
Osvaldo 37 (p)
Soldado 46, 64, 66, 77
|Real Madrid||0-1||Sporting Gijón|