Madrid close on Barça
Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals before being sent off as Real Madrid trimmed the gap to leaders Barcelona back to five points with a 2-0 victory over Malaga. Ronaldo had struck twice in quick succession in the first half to put Madrid on their way to a tenth consecutive home win this season, but he was then handed his marching orders in the 70th minute.
Ronaldo was shown a straight red card after catching Patrick Mtiliga in the face with a flailing elbow as he attempted to escape from the Malaga defender. The ten men of Madrid held on without the former Manchester United man to cut the difference to Barça, who beat Real Valladolid 3-0 last night.
Villarreal got their push for European qualification back on track as they held off a second-half comeback from a spirited Real Zaragoza side to win 4-2 and register their first victory of 2010. Joan Capdevila, Nilmar and Giuseppe Rossi all struck within the first 25 minutes to put the Yellow Submarine firmly in control.
The away side hit back in the second half with goals from Pereira Eliseu and Angel Lafita, but Ariel Ibagaza struck late on to move Villarreal up one place to ninth in the table.
A penalty decision left Espanyol frustrated as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Mallorca. Striker Dani Osvaldo gave Espanyol the lead just after the break on his full debut for the club. It looked as if the Barcelona-based side had done enough to win all three points, but Victor Ruiz was punished for a push on Ruben Gonzalez and Borja Valero converted the spot-kick which was enough for the visitors to return to fourth in the table.
New Xerez coach Nestor Raul Gorosito suffered a debut defeat as his side lost 2-1 at home to Osasuna. Nacho Monreal gave Osasuna the lead after just nine minutes, but there was hope for Xerez as Mario Bermejo hit back halfway through the first half. Javier Camunas struck the winner for the visitors with just seven minutes remaining.
Alexandre Geijo's goal earned Racing Santander a fifth win in seven league games as they won 1-0 away to Sporting Gijon. The visitors finished the game with ten men as Lozano Farran Oriol was sent off for a second booking in the 89th minute.
Manu scored against his former club as Getafe claimed bragging rights over local rivals Atletico Madrid with a 1-0 win and Tenerife boosted their chances of survival with an impressive 0-0 draw against in-form Valencia.