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Spain round-up: Real stay close

Real Sociedad moved to within a point of leaders Real Madrid CF with a 3-1 win against Deportivo Alavés.

Real Sociedad moved back to within a point of leaders Real Madrid CF as they secured an impressive 3-1 win against struggling Deportivo Alavés.

First-half goals
Darko Kovacevic put Real ahead on 17 minutes before Nihat Kahveci and Valeri Karpin added further goals before half-time to ensure Ruben Navarro's late penalty was only a consolation. Real move back up to second ahead of RC Deportivo La Coruña, while Alavés remain one place - and just two points - ahead of the bottom three.

Mallorca win
Ariel Ibagaza inspired RCD Mallorca to their first win in eight matches as his side beat Real Betis Balompié 2-1. The midfield player won the first-minute penalty that was converted by Walter Pandiani. Betis drew level after 22 minutes with a well-worked equaliser, as Brazilian winger Denilson created a clear opening for the unmarked Fernando, who headed into the net. However, Mallorca restored their advantage six minutes into the second period, as John Lozano headed what proved to be the winning goal.

Málaga return to form
UEFA Cup quarter-finalists Málaga CF, who were another team searching for form having taken only one point from their previous four matches, were also winners, with goals from Julio Dely Valdes and two in the final 15 minutes from midfield player Manu securing a 3-0 win against Athletic Club Bilbao.

Surprise victory
Struggling Rayo Vallecano also recorded an unexpected victory, denting RC Celta de Vigo's challenge for a European place with a 1-0 victory secured by a header from defender Ramón de Quintana four minutes from time.

Sevilla success
Elsewhere, RC Recreativo de Huelva drew 0-0 at home with RCD Espanyol. Meanwhile, Sevilla FC were 2-0 winners against Club Atlético Osasuna thanks to first-half goals from Antonio and a penalty from José Antonio Reyes, with the visitors losing defender Paqui to a red card for a second bookable offence after 16 minutes.