Alexis Sánchez, Xavi Hernández and Cesc Fàbregas were on target as FC Barcelona recovered from an early setback to complete a 3-1 away victory against Real Madrid CF, whom they dislodged from the Liga summit.
Josep Guardiola's charges went behind to a Karim Benzema strike after just 23 seconds, following a miscued clearance by goalkeeper Victor Valdés, and had Cristiano Ronaldo passed to Ángel Di María instead of shooting wide the match might have ended differently. However, Barcelona restored parity on the half-hour mark through Alexis, who drilled in a shot after wonderful approach play by Lionel Messi.
The visitors took the lead early in the second half when Xavi, on his 600th appearance for the Azulgrana, unleashed a 25-metre snapshot that deflected wickedly into the net off Marcelo. Ronaldo then headed wide wide and within moments Fàbregas was launching himself headlong at Dani Alves' centre to seal the points.
Earlier in the evening, Valencia CF's miserable week ended in a dramatic 2-1 defeat at Real Betis Balompié. Unai Emery's side, whose UEFA Champions League campaign was ended by Chelsea FC in midweek, were on course for victory thanks to Chechu Dorado's 66th-minute own goal, until Rubén Castro struck twice in added time to stun the visitors. Fourth placed Levante UD moved to within a point of third-placed Valencia with a 1-0 home victory against Sevilla FC, Nuno scoring the solitary goal.
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|Last updated: 12/12/2011 13:40 CET|
Rubén 90+1, 90+4
Dorado Ramirez 66 (o.g.)
|2||Real Madrid CF||15||37|
|8||Club Atlético de Madrid||14||19|
|11||Rayo Vallecano de Madrid||15||16|
|13||Real Betis Balompié||15||16|
|14||Real Sociedad de Fútbol||14||15|
|18||Real Racing Club||14||12|
|19||Real Sporting de Gijón||14||12|