Real Madrid CF edged a thrilling match against Valencia CF to remain within five points of FC Barcelona after the champions had defeated city rivals RCD Espanyol earlier on Saturday.
Barça were without Lionel Messi, who injured an ankle in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League victory at FC Dynamo Kyiv, but the Argentina forward was at Camp Nou to show the Ballon d'Or award he won earlier this month off to the fans. Zlatan Ibrahimović scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the 39th minute, after José Raúl Baena had impeded Xavi Hernández, to make it eleven goals in 13 league outings since his summer transfer.
Only David Villa has scored more than the Swede in the Liga this season, although the Spanish international's 12th of the campaign was not enough to earn Valencia a point against Real Madrid, for whom Gonzalo Higuaín struck twice. Joaquín scored an 80th-minute leveller for the home team, who were beaten by a neat header from Madrid substitute Ezequiel Garay three minutes later.
Pep Guardiola's Barça side, who equalled the club record of 15 consecutive matches undefeated set under Terry Venables at the start of the 1984/85 season, have played a game more than Madrid. Elsewhere, teenage striker Iker Muniain came off the bench to inspire Athletic Club to a 2-1 win at Real Zaragoza earlier on Saturday. The Bilbao club are up to seventh.
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|Last updated: 30/11/2012 13:22 CET|
|Venue: San Sebastian|