Liga leaders Real Madrid CF fought their way back from behind for the second consecutive weekend to dispatch Athletic Club 4-1 and keep champions FC Barcelona five points off the pace.
Having struggled to defeat RCD Mallorca last time out, Madrid fell behind at the Santiago Bernabéu when Fernando Llorente volleyed in a 13th-minute opener. Marcelo's left-footed effort soon restored parity, however, and a pair of second-half Cristiano Ronaldo penalties put the hosts in front, the latter following the dismissal of Athletic's Óscar de Marcos. José Callejón completed the scoring late on.
It was a special day for Iker Casillas, who made his 600th appearance for the club. "My very first game for Madrid also came against Athletic Club [on 12 September 1999] and I never dreamed then that I'd reach such a figure," he said. "There have been so many memories and emotions [over the years] which bring me a lot of happiness."
The win maintained Madrid's advantage at the top after Barcelona had applied pressure via their 4-1 success at Málaga CF earlier on Sunday, Lionel Messi contributing a superb hat-trick to the cause. The most emphatic win of the round was engineered by Club Atlético de Madrid, though, as they climbed to eighth by prevailing 4-0 at Real Sociedad de Fútbol, Falcao notching a treble of his own.
Elsewhere, third-placed Valencia CF drew 1-1 at CA Osasuna and Levante UD, who sit fourth, recorded a goalless stalemate with bottom side Real Zaragoza. The derby between Real Betis Balompié and ten-man Sevilla FC ended 1-1 while RCD Espanyol, Getafe CF and Mallorca all won their matches.
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|Last updated: 24/01/2012 22:28 CET|
|Venue: San Sebastian|
|1||Real Madrid CF||19||49|
|8||Club Atlético de Madrid||19||26|
|12||Real Betis Balompié||19||23|
|13||Rayo Vallecano de Madrid||19||22|
|15||Real Sociedad de Fútbol||19||21|
|16||Real Racing Club||19||20|
|19||Real Sporting de Gijón||19||18|