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La Liga Round-up: Real Madrid capitalise on Barcelona defeat to extend lead

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By Peter McVitie

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Real Madrid capitalised on Barcelona’s capitulation at the weekend as they came from behind to defeat 10-man Levante, taking them 10 points clear at the top of the table following the Blaugrana’s 3-2 defeat to Osasuna.

Lekic twice fired past Victor Valdes to put Osasuna 2-0 up before Alexis Sanchez slotted home an Isaac Cuenca cross early in the second-half to pull the Spanish champions back into the game.

Raul Garcia restored the home side’s two-goal lead five minutes later, but Cristian Tello gave Barcelona a fighting chance with just over 15 minutes remaining as he cut back and blasted into the net.

Sanchez looked to have brought the sides level in the dying minutes as he ran on to the back post to tap a Lionel Messi cross into the net but the linesman’s flag was raised and the 23-year-old had a goal disallowed for the third time in the match.

Levante made extending their lead at the top of La Liga a difficult task for Jose Mourinho’s side as they went ahead through Gustavo Cabral inside the first five minutes on Sunday night. The Granotas, who beat Madrid earlier in the season, conceded a penalty on the stroke of half-time when Iborra de la Fuente received his second yellow card after handling the ball inside the box, with Cristiano Ronaldo stepping up to convert from the spot.

The Portuguese striker put Los Blancos ahead early in the second-half as he headed home a fantastic Gonzalo Higuain cross. Ronaldo netted his hat-trick when he sent a stunning strike past Gustavo Munua from the edge of the area.

Juan Ignacio Martinez’s men then reduced the deficit to two goals with a delightful team move which led to Arouna Kone’s header past Iker Casillas. But Karim Benzema put the game to bed three minutes later, rounding Munua with a curling effort to extend his side’s lead at the top of the table.

Bottom club Real Zaragoza ended a 17 game winless streak as they beat Espanyol 2-0 at the Cornellá - El Prat on Sunday.

The Blanquillos remain bottom of the table, four points adrift of Sporting Gijon who lost 4-0 to Valencia. Feghouli’s strike saw Los Che lead at the break before Alberto Botia’s own goal after 73 minutes doubled Unai Emery’s side’s lead and two last minute goals from Jonas made it four to the home side. Valencia remain in third place with an eight point lead over Levante in fourth.

A goalless draw with Racing Santander was enough to see Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid step into the European places following Athletic Bilbao’s defeat to Betis. Marcelo Bielsa’s men fell to ninth place behind Malaga, who recorded a 3-1 win over Mallorca, and Osasuna.

Real Betis 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

Osasuna 3-2 Barcelona

Racing Santander 0-0 Atlético Madrid

Espanyol 0-2 Real Zaragoza

Málaga 3-1 Mallorca

Rayo Vallecano 2-0 Getafe

Valencia 4-0 Sporting Gijon

Villarreal 3-1 Granada

Real Madrid 4-2 Levante

Real Sociedad 2-0 Sevilla

To make sure you don't miss any of A Different League's Spanish coverage this season, follow the La Liga dedicated Twitter feed: @differentliga

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