Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice in the second half as Real Madrid provisionally moved 13 points clear at the Primera Division summit with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Real Betis.
Betis went ahead early on through Jorge Molina but Madrid battled back to lead with goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Ronaldo.
The home side refused to give in and equalised through Jefferson Montero’s 55th-minute strike, but Ronaldo had the final word 17 minutes from time as Jose Mourinho’s men recorded their 11th successive league win to move further clear of Barcelona, who play Racing Santander tomorrow.
Jose Salomon Rondon scored the only goal as Malaga leapfrogged Levante into fourth place.
The hosts had by far the better of the opening period but it took them until six minutes after the break to take the lead when Rondon got the merest of touches to Joaquin’s cross to divert the ball into the far corner.
Arouna Kone nearly brought the visitors level as he prodded just wide at the near post and after Isco, Rondon and Sebastian Fernandez passed up chances to seal the three points for Malaga, Nabil El Zhar came within inches of snatching a draw with the last kick of the game but his volley flew just over as the home side held on for the points.
On-loan Sporting Gijon midfielder Andre Castro scored the only goal as Sevilla’s European ambitions suffered a blow on a rowdy night at El Molinon.
Castro’s sublime finish from an acute angle on 32 minutes gave the baying home fans reason for cheer as Sporting ended a seven-game winless run to boost their survival hopes.
A spicy atmosphere saw the home fans routinely throw paper balls at the Sevilla players whose frustration at the hostile atmosphere and Sporting’s fine rearguard was evident by the end.
The final whistle prompted a skirmish involving a number of players, most notably Sevilla’s Federico Fazio who had to be pulled away from a confrontation with home defender Gregory Arnolin.
Imanol Agirretxe scored twice as Real Sociedad cruised to a 3-0 win over Real Zaragoza.
The hosts were dominant from start to finish and had the points sewn up by half-time after three first-half goals.
Agirretxe got the first as he volleyed into an unguarded net after Roberto had parried David Zurutuza’s cross on 18 minutes.
Three minutes later Carlos Vela made it two as his deflected effort wrong-footed Roberto and Agirretxe tapped home his second after Alberto de la Bella’s cross had found him free at the back post.