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Barcelona, Valencia draw; Madrid beat Valladolid

BARCELONA held on for 0-0 against Valencia while Real Madrid bounced back from its first defeat of the season in beating Valladolid 4-2 to close the gap on the Spanish leader on Saturday.

Barcelona, which was denied a record seventh straight win to start the season, has 19 points for a one-point advantage over its Spanish capital rival.

Madrid captain Raul Gonzalez, playing in his record 711th game for the club, deflected in Esteban Granero's centered pass with the side of his left foot in the 14th minute, and ran on to Marcelo's skipping pass four minutes later to send a right-footed shot beyond Jacobo Sanz for 2-0.

Valladolid struck back through Nauzet Aleman in the 29th, before Marcelo restored the two-goal lead with a powerful long-range shot to close the first half.

Marcos Garcia brought Valladolid back to within a goal in the 53rd, then substitute Gonzalo Higuain secured victory for Madrid - playing without injured star Cristiano Ronaldo - with a precise lob in the 79th.

Valencia had the better chances against Barcelona and nearly went ahead in the opening minute through Pablo Hernandez but couldn't convert its many chances with leading striker David Villa out to injury.

Pedro Rodriguez's chance from inside the area in the 65th deflected wide as Barcelona came alive in the second half but couldn't finish off.

"We can't win all 38 games," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said.

Earlier, Deportivo La Coruna beat Sevilla 1-0 to join its Andalucian opponent at 15 points after a fifth win in six games. Valencia has 12 points.

Juan Rodriguez jumped on Fernando Navarro's weak clearance to rocket a right-footed shot from outside the area into the top of goal off the inside of the near post in the 38th minute and snap Sevilla's five-game winning streak.

Present and past galacticos - including Zinedine Zidane - were among the 79,000 spectators at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, as Ronaldo missed a second straight game to an ankle injury.

But a flying start was forgotten after Aleman scored by curling over the defensive wall and in off the near post.

"At 2-1 we lost our fear and we created occasions," Valladolid coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said. "But to win at the Bernabeu isn't easy."

Marcelo, who had earlier provided Raul's third goal of the season, cut across the field in the 46th before unleashing a right-footed shot past Sanz.

"I liked the first half a lot. We dominated," Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "We made two errors on the goals."

Garcia received a pass from Diego Costa and curled a shot beyond Casillas to keep Valladolid in the contest.

Kaka and Higuain, both having just returned from South America World Cup qualifiers, came on in the 72nd before Higuain ensured the three points after getting the ball from Xavi Alonso down the right and chipping over Sanz.

Madrid's defense, which had allowed both goals from setplays in a 2-1 loss at Sevilla, was still unsettled and had to clear a chance from Costa off the goal line with five minutes to play.

At Mestalla Stadium, Hernandez shot straight at goalkeeper Victor Valdes from a clear break.

End-to-end pace thrilled the crowd with Valencia dominating the first half through David Silva, Juanma Mata and Pablo Hernandez.

But Mata and Hernandez collided in the 25th while going for Silva's centering pass to bungle a good chance, while Mata skied another in the 32nd.

Cesar Sanchez came out to block Andres Iniesta's angled shot in the 35th as Barcelona's possession game failed to yield clear chances until the second half when Lionel Messi was saved in the 61st. The 22-year-old Messi, who celebrated the fifth anniversarry of his Barcelona debut with appearance No. 170, was limited by Valencia's marking.

"They moved into the empty spaces well and created a lot of problems for us, especially in the first half," Guardiola said. "But in the second half we had the ball more and were better."

Silva volleyed straight into the arms of Valdes from inside the box in the 71st. Guardiola, who left Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench, watched his team's perfect start end as Sanchez saved from Yaya Toure in the 88th.

Sevilla was without striker Luis Fabiano, who was left out after returning from international duty with Brazil, at El Roazor Stadium.

Baras kept Deportivo from going into halftime with a two-goal advantage, saving with one arm Ivan "Riki" Sanchez's point-blank header.

Deportivo goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia tipped a drive from Alvaro Negredo over the bar in the 50th as Sevilla, riding a 2-1 win over Real Madrid in the last round, pressed for an equalizer. Julien Escude and Renato both missed later chances.

In Sunday's other games, it's: Xerez vs. Villarreal; Espanyol vs. Tenerife; Mallorca vs. Getafe; Zaragoza vs. Racing Santander; Malaga vs. Almeria; Athletic Bilbao vs. Sporting Gijon and Osasuna vs. Atletico Madrid.


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