Real Madrid CF moved seven points clear at the top of the Liga after their 3-1 success against Real Zaragoza was followed by an unexpected stalemate involving FC Barcelona at Villarreal CF.
Madrid must have feared that a bad week, in which they were eliminated from the Copa del Rey by Barcelona, was about to get worse when they fell behind to an 11th-minute strike by Ángel Lafita at the Santiago Bernabéu. However, José Mourinho's pacesetters rallied from a goal down for the third league match running as Kaká levelled terms on 32 minutes before Cristiano Ronaldo snaffled his 31st goal for the club in all competitions this season (49). Mezut Özil then rounded off the scoring seven minutes later.
Barcelona needed a victory at El Madrigal to keep their rivals from pulling further clear at the top but Josep Guardiola's side failed to break down a resolute Villarreal side. Lionel Messi squandered the best opportunity on 17 minutes when he raced clear only to send his lob over Diego López wide, while Cesc Fàbregas crashed a shot against the bar on 72 minutes.
Earlier in the day RCD Espanyol moved level on points with fourth-placed Levante UD thanks to a 1-0 victory against RCD Mallorca, while Athletic Club are just a place back after Fernando Llorente's hat-trick edged a 3-2 success at Rayo Vallecano de Madrid.
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|Last updated: 01/02/2012 16:43 CET|
Pérez Cuesta 11, Arribas 26
Llorente 16, 23, 68
|1||Real Madrid CF||20||52|
|8||Club Atlético de Madrid||19||26|
|12||Real Betis Balompié||19||23|
|13||Rayo Vallecano de Madrid||20||22|
|15||Real Sociedad de Fútbol||19||21|
|16||Real Racing Club||19||20|
|19||Real Sporting de Gijón||19||18|