Real Madrid CF made the most of FC Barcelona's draw on Saturday by beating Valencia CF 2-0 to close within a single point of their rivals at the top of the Spanish Liga with five games remaining.
Manuel Pellegrini's side needed a fillip at the Santiago Bernabéu in their first home match since the champions humbled them 2-0 last weekend and they did not disappoint, even though the margin of victory could have been greater against a Valencia side hit by defensive injuries.
The breakthrough finally arrived after 25 minutes when Gonzalo Higuaín swept in the opener after Guti won possession and fed the Argentina striker, who turned David Albelda deftly before scoring. Rafael van der Vaart's drive was then cleared off the line by Alexis as the hosts threatened to run away with the contest.
Valencia were still a danger, however, with an Alexis header saved by Iker Casillas and Juan Mata's follow-up striking the post. David Villa was always menacing while David Silva thumped the bar after the break but Cristiano Ronaldo eventually made the points safe with his 20th league goal of the season after a fine run by Marcelo.
Athletic Club and RC Deportivo La Coruña both endured irritating goalless draws that checked their ambitions of claiming a European spot. The San Mamés side failed to break down Real Zaragoza and remain seventh while Depor in ninth were held by UD Almería at the Riazor and sit five points behind Villarreal CF and Athletic.
Towards the foot of the table, Málaga CF drew 0-0 with second-bottom Real Valladolid CF to stay four points above their opponents but CD Tenerife are now only a point shy of the Andalusian outfit after Nino's hat-trick saw off Getafe CF 3-2. Real Racing Club edged closer to survival with a 2-2 draw at bottom side Xerez CD.
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|Last updated: 02/07/2011 06:00 CET|
Rossi 71 (p)
Osvaldo 38, 58
Kike Sola 51
|Venue: La Coruna|
|Real Sociedad||2-1||Sporting Gijón|
Griezmann 32, 79
|Venue: San Sebastian|
Cristiano Ronaldo 82 (p)
Messi 53 (p)