A brace from Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Xerez that put them just two points behind league leaders Barcelona who are in action on Sunday.
Returning from a two-game suspension, Ronaldo was always the protagonist for the visitors, but in the first half Real did not have it all their own way. Jeronimo Momes and Ronaldo both hit the woodwork with chances at both ends, but after the break Real began to dominate.
Defender Alvaro Arbeloa made the breakthrough after 64 minutes before Ronaldo wrapped the game up with two goals in two minutes. Kaka was the provider on both occasions for the Portuguese talent who scored first with his head and then a simple side-foot finish.
Mata to the rescue
Earlier, a cool Juan Mata finish rescued a point for a battling Valencia side who drew 1-1 against Sporting Gijon. Despite going into the game on the back of four straight defeats, it was Sporting who began the livelier and they went ahead through a fine curling strike from Diego Castro.
Valencia were struggling in defence without David Navarro and Alexis Ruanoes, but going forward they began to find their feet, with David Villa - returning to the club where he began his career - denied by an inspired Juan Pablo in the Sporting goal.
It appeared as though it was not going to be Valencia's day after they hit the post twice and Mata missed a one-on-one chance with the goalkeeper, as Sporting were forced further and further back. However, with 14 minutes to go, Ever Banega supplied Mata with an excellent through ball and this time he made no mistake, finishing clinically.