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Madrid Extends Lead At Top of La Liga To Five Points

Football resumed in Spain after the short winter break, and it did not take long for the first upset of 2012 to occur, as a late equalizer from Espanyol in the Barcelona derby dented Barca’s title hopes.

Real Madrid started off 2012 like they ended 2011, scoring goals. This week Madrid beat Granada 5-1 with Karim Benzema scoring twice and Cristiano Ronaldo hitting his 21st league goal of the season. Madrid has now scored 61 goals in 17 league games, an average of 3.58 goals per game. More impressively they have scored four or more goals in 10 of those games and have won six games with six goals and one with seven.

Barcelona could not keep pace with their rivals as they could only draw 1-1 at derby rivals Espanyol, as Álvaro Vázquez cancelled out Cesc Fàbregas’s opener for the visitors with four minutes left.

Valencia failed to make up ground on the top two following a 2-2 draw with neighbours Villarreal in which they found themselves two goals down inside 18 minutes. Aritz Aduriz denied the Yellow Submarine a vital win in José Molina’s first game since succeeding Juan Carlos Garrido.

The team below third-bottom Villarreal, Real Sporting de Gijón, finished their 2-0 loss to Real Betis Balompié with nine men after red cards for Lora and Carmelo, while Rayo Vallecano are three points clear of the relegation zone thanks to a 2-1 defeat of Sevilla. The game between Getafe and Athletic Club finished goalless.

Elsewhere Real Racing Club managed only their third victory of the campaign as Bernardo scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time against Real Zaragoza, who are now five points adrift at the foot of the table. Real Sociedad versus Osasuna, Levante against Mallorca and Málaga versus Atlético Madrid all ended goalless.