Real Madrid extend La Liga lead

November 21st, 2011 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Nov 21 (IANS) Real Madrid remained three points clear of FC Barcelona at the top of the La Liga following a weekend in which the case for those complaining the Spanish fooball league is a two horse race became even stronger.

Real Madrid’s 3-2 win away Sunday night to Valencia, who kicked off the round of matches third in the league table, takes Madrid eight points clear of Valencia, who are generally considered to be the strongest side after Real Madrid and Barcelona, Xinhua reported.

Jose Mourinho’s side got off to a flying start and Karim Benzema put them ahead after 19 minutes. Madrid doubled their lead after 71 minutes when Sergio Ramos scored a header.

Roberto Soldado got Valencia back into the match 15 minutes from time as the former Madrid striker drove home from close range, however, an error from Valencia keeper Diego Alves allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to make it 3-1 to the visitors.

Soldado’s second goal of the night eight minutes from time assured a tense finale, but Real Madrid held on to take all three points.

Barcelona had a comfortable 4-0 at home to relegation threatened Zaragoza. Gerard Pique, Leo Messi, Carles Puyol and David Villa all scored on a placid night for Barca, who have not lost all season.

Saturday night saw Villarreal win a dull game 1-0 at home to Betis. Borja Valero’s smart chip over the keeper midway through the half was enough to ensure the win. Betis meanwhile have taken just one point from their last eight games and continue to drop down the table.

Sunday kicked off with Real Sociedad producing a dull 0-0 draw at home to Espanyol in the Anoeta Stadium, the result leaves the Basque side in the relegation zone after they missed several chances to claim an important win.

Osasuna and Rayo Vallaecano also failed to produce a single goal in the 90 minutes disputed in Osasuna’s el Sadar Stadium, while Nacho Novo scored a dramatic 89th minute goal to give Sporting Gijon a 2-1 home with against Getafe.

Miku had put Getafe ahead, before Oscar Trejo equalized for the Asturians. Getafe then had Abdel Barrada sent off by referee Turienzo Alvarez, who showed a total of 11 yellow and one red card during the 96 minutes that the game lasted.

Athletic Bilbao continue to improve. Marcelo Bielsa’s side won 2-1 away to Sevilla thanks to goals from Andoni Iriola and Oscar de Marcos. Athletic have now gone 11 games unbeaten.

One interesting detail from the game is that Jonas Ramalho came on for Athletic as a late substitute becoming the first black player to represent the club that has a policy of playing only footballers born or raised as footballers in the Basque country in the north of Spain.

Atletico Madrid meanwhile prepared for next weekend’s derby against Real Madrid with a 3-2 win over Levante. Pizzi, Adrian Lopez and Diego all scored for Atletico, while Levante have not lost their last three matches.

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