Real Madrid CF, aided by a stunning Gareth Bale goal, moved three points clear at the Liga summit as they capitalised on FC Barcelona's surprise 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad de Fútbol.
The Catalan giants were sluggish throughout in San Sebastian, in contrast to the home side's vim and vigour. Lionel Messi cancelled out Alex Song's 32nd-minute own goal to leave the teams level at half-time but Real Sociedad, with designs on finishing fourth this term, were too strong in the second period. Antoine Griezmann did the damage, putting them ahead (54) then turning provider for David Zurutuza (59) and there was no way back for Barcelona.
It meant Madrid remain three points clear at the summit, at least until Club Atlético de Madrid play on Sunday. Carlo Ancelotti's in-form side made light of the absence of suspended pair Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modrić at home to Elche CF. Asier Illarramendi's first-half effort – his first for the club – set them on their way and though the visitors clung on, Bale's wonderful goal with 19 minutes left, a blistering shot from 25 metres that went in off the bar, sealed their fate. Isco (81) completed a 3-0 triumph.
It means Madrid will go into Tuesday's trip to FC Schalke 04 in the UEFA Champions League on the back of 14 wins in 15 outings. RC Celta de Vigo cannot quite compare with that, but four wins in six outings is no less significant in their escape from the relegation zone. They had to settle for a point on Saturday, coming from behind to draw 1-1 with a Getafe CF side who had defender Lisandro López sent off (52). Málaga CF were held to a 0-0 draw by fellow strugglers UD Almería in the late game.
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|Last updated: 22/02/2014 23:51 CET|
|Venue: San Sebastian|
|1||Real Madrid CF||25||63|
|3||Club Atlético de Madrid||24||60|
|5||Real Sociedad de Fútbol||25||43|
|11||RC Celta de Vigo||25||30|
|18||Real Valladolid CF||25||22|
|19||Rayo Vallecano de Madrid||24||20|
|20||Real Betis Balompié||24||14|