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Real Madrid go 13 points clear

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By David Redshaw

Sunday 11 March 2012

Real Madrid went 13 points clear at the top of La Liga after coming from behind to beat Real Betis 3-2 at the Benito Villamarín.

Betis went ahead after 10 minutes through Jorge Molina, who tucked a rising shot past Iker Casillas, but Madrid drew level 15 minutes later when Gonzalo Higuaín beat goalkeeper Fabricio at the near post. Salva Sevilla then rattled the crossbar before half-time as the home side continued to impress, yet it was the visitors who got their noses in front seven minutes after the break, Cristiano Ronaldo giving Fabricio no chance with a clinical finish from inside the box. However, Madrid’s lead lasted just two minutes when Jefferson Montero lashed home after Álvaro Arbeloa had failed to clear a corner.

The Andalusians came close to making it 3-2 four minutes later when Casillas was forced into a double save to deny Rubén Castro and Montero, before José Mourinho’s men went on to claim all three points thanks to Ronaldo’s second of the evening. The former Manchester United man was on hand to pounce after Fabricio had parried Sergio Ramos’ glancing header, although Betis were denied a penalty in the last minute for what looked like a clear handball inside the area as Madrid moved closer to the La Liga title.

Afterwards, Mourinho agreed that Betis had deserved more from the game and praised the performance of Pepe Mel’s players had, although he insisted the result could have gone either way.

“It was a game that nobody knew who was going to win, how it was going to end or who would score next, said the Portuguese. “Perhaps it would have been better to be more defensive but neither side defended or took control. It was a game with a lot of space and I thought the 2-3 score was unfair. and maybe a draw would have been the right result, although it could have been 4-4 or 2-4.

“Pepe Mel’s team are an example of a team that is not fighting for the title but puts on a spectacle to delight the fans, like in the Copa del Rey against Barcelona last year. It is a fantastic philosophy,” he added.

Opposite number Pepe Mel was disappointed his team had got nothing from the game and was understandably proud his players.

“We did too much to have come away with zero points," he said. "But I am extremely proud of Betis as a whole, the players and the supporters. We had a team like Real Madrid on the ropes and wasting time, so that says a lot about my players, but we knew it would be intense and we would have to play well. That is what we did and we created to many chances to have lost.”

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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