Primera Liga round-up
Madrid return to summit; Valencia and Atletico cruise; Xerez win
Last Updated: April 4, 2010 10:57pm
Ronaldo and Higuain in unison
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain were on target as Real Madrid returned to the summit in Spain courtesy of a 2-0 victory at Racing Santander.
A low key game saw Ronaldo net from the penalty spot in the first period after the Portugal international had been brought down in the area, before in-form Argentine Higuain made sure of the spoils in the 76th minute.
Ronaldo's goal was his 18th in La Liga this season, while Real's leading scorer Higuain moved onto 24 - two behind Barca's Lionel Messi at the top of the Primera Division charts.
The three-point haul moves Madrid onto 77 points with eight matches left to play, ahead of Barcelona on goal difference, with the two giants to go head-to-head on Saturday.
Atletico Madrid moved to within two points of Deportivo La Coruna in the top-half after a comfortable 3-0 win at Vicente Calderon.
Juanito was drafted into the starting line-up because Luis Perea was suspended and the defender opened the scoring with a close-range finish on 22 minutes.
Deportivo were on the back foot for the majority of the game in the Spanish capital and went further behind after the break when Diego Forlan netted a header.
The points were secure when Tiago put the nail in the coffin with an effort on 62 minutes.
Valencia further strengthened their stranglehold on third place in the Primera Division after seeing off Osasuna with three second-half goals at the Mestalla.
Joaquin Sanchez put Los Che ahead after 48 minutes and David Villa added two more in the last few minutes to complete a comprehensive, if slightly flattering, win for Unai Emery's side.
Bottom of the table Xerez continued their recent revival as they twice came from behind to earn a valuable point away to Sporting Gijon.
The southerners, in their first ever season in the top-flight, went behind early in this game as Alberto Rivera gave the home side the lead with a cross that Xerez keeper Renan Brito badly misjudged.
But the visitors refused to lie down and Mario Bermejo levelled with a fine strike seven minutes into the second half.
Miguel De Las Cuevas duly restored Sporting's lead four minutes later, but again the visitors responded and they secured a hard-earned point thanks to Matias Alustiza's late strike.
Getafe's European aspirations took a blow as Espanyol edged a point closer to survival in a game that was ultimately disappointing for both sides in Madrid.
Getafe missed a great chance to move to within two points of the European places, while Espanyol once again failed to win away from home, despite their second-half domination.
Manu Del Moral set Getafe on their way with the opener after 27 minutes, but the hosts were unconvincing and Espanyol deservedly got back into the game through Dani Osvaldo's stunning volley shortly into the second period.
Real Mallorca needed a late goal from Pierre Webo to grab a 1-1 draw away to Almeria, that put them level on 48 points with Sevilla, but fifth due to their inferior head-to-head record.
Kalu Uche gave Almeria a sixth minute lead but the home side had to settle for a point when Webo struck at the death.
Villarreal maintained their push for European football at the expense of relegation-threatened Real Valladolid as they claimed only their second away win of the season.
Goals in either half from Angel Lopez and Nilmar earned all three points for the visitors but they could have scored many more in a match they dominated throughout.