Central defender Fernando Hierro struck a hat-trick to inspire Real Madrid CF to a 3-1 win at home to Real Zaragoza and keep his side top of the Primera División.
Hierro bundled in the first from a corner, added his second from the penalty spot and, after Savo Milosevic had pulled one back for the visitors, the Spanish international wrapped up the win with a left-foot shot from the edge of the area.
The result gives Madrid 56 points from 31 games and secures their position at the top of the table for at least another week. Valencia CF are level on points with Vicente del Bosque's side as they kept pace with the leaders with a 2-1 home victory against Club Atlético Osasuna.
Valencia in touch
Juan Sánchez opened the scoring in the 79th minute but John Aloisi equalised with five minutes remaining. Rubén Baraja secured three points for Valencia deep into injury time, making amends for an earlier penalty miss. Romero was sent off for Osasuna on the half-hour mark.
RC Deportivo La Coruña remain third, two points behind Madrid thanks to a 3-1 win at home to CD Tenerife. Federico Lussenhoff gave Tenerife the lead after 20 minutes and his team-mates appeared to be hanging on for three points until Lionel Scaloni equalised with 16 minutes remaining. Scaloni grabbed his second seven minutes later and Roy Makaay sealed victory five minutes from time. Diego Tristán had earlier missed a 66th-minute penalty for Deportivo.
Six for Celta
RC Celta Vigo maintained their push for a UEFA Champions League place with a stunning 6-1 win at Athletic Club Bilbao which lifted them to fourth on 51 points. Goals from Catanha and Vágner Rogério put them 2-0 up, although Ismael Urzaiz gave the home crowd hope by pulling one back on the stroke of half-time. Celta added a further four goals in 18 second-half minutes, with Peter Luccin, Valeri Karpin, Jesuli and Florian Maurice all getting on the scoresheet.
FC Barcelona kept alive their slim hopes of challenging for the title with a well earned 2-1 victory at Real Valladolid. Carles Rexach's side, who came back from an early Luis García strike to take the lead through Dutchmen Patrick Kluivert and Phillip Cocu, had to play the entire second half a man short after Abelardo was sent off on 42 minutes. They managed to hang on, despite relentless Valladolid pressure, to move up to sixth place on 50 points.
Alavés in charge
Two late goals by Martín Astudillo and Daniel Iván Alonso gave Deportivo Alavés three points against RCD Espanyol at the Montjuic stadium. Espanyol had taken the lead a minute before half-time when Enrique de Lucas fired home from close range, but Astudillo equalised nine minutes from time and Alonso headed the winner in the dying seconds.
Away joy for Sociedad
Darko Kovacevic scored two crucial goals for Real Sociedad as they beat RCD Mallorca 2-0 to stay clear of the relegation zone. Mallorca dominated the goalless first half, but Kovacevic made the home side pay for their wayward finishing as he scored with a header four minutes into the second period. The Yugoslavian international striker then made it 2-0 in the 61st minute when he was on hand to stab the ball home from a metre out.
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