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Real 6 back with 6 to play

Real Madrid were again able to haul themselves back to within six points of Liga leaders FC Barcelona, this time with a 2-0 home win against Real Valladolid, but third-placed Sevilla suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat by Getafe.

Barcelona had asked questions of the Spanish champions with Saturday’s 2-0 win at home to RC Recreativo de Huelva, but Juande Ramos’s charges again maintained the pressure with a victory. Madrid stuttered early on with Luis Prieto missing the simplest of chances to give the visitors the lead, however home nerves were calmed on 44 minutes when Gonzalo Higuaín darted between two defenders before sweeping a low cross for Raúl González to score his 15th league goal of the season. Real Madrid’s win was confirmed late on when Arjen Robben raced on to Guti’s pass and finished confidently.

Sevilla are now 12 points behind Madrid after Jaime Gavilán’s late winner for Getafe, while Valencia took advantage of Villarreal’s slip on Saturday to move fourth. Los Ché were 3-2 winners at Real Sporting de Gijón with Juan Mata scoring an 88th-minute winner after the home side had twice levelled. Three points further back, Club Atlético de Madrid remain in the hunt for a UEFA Champions League place following their 2-1 victory at Deportivo La Coruña, courtesy of goals from Sergio Agüero and Simão.

The four sides directly above the relegation zone at the start of play all won to overtake Sporting Gijón and pull away from trouble. Aside from Getafe’s success, Real Betis Balompié were 3-2 victors at Real Racing Club, Mallorca beat Almería 2-0 and Osasuna overcame Athletic Club Bilbao 2-1. Those results were particularly unfortunate for the bottom two sides – Numancia and Espanyol – who drew 0-0 to leave the Barcelona club still two points adrift of their opponents