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Raul helps Real beat Mallorca

RAUL Gonzalez marked his 500th Spanish league game for Real Madrid with a goal on Sunday in the two-time defending champion's 3-0 victory over Mallorca, and leader Barcelona needed two late goals to ensure a 3-2 win at last-place Osasuna.

The 31-year-old Spanish striker, who is only the sixth player to reach the milestone, shook his marker in the 17th minute and used a deft backheel touch to redirect Gonzalo Higuain's centering pass to make it 2-0 with his 212th league goal.

Higuain had played Arjen Robben into space down the right for the opening goal in the third minute. Robben coolly slid a left-footed shot under goalkeeper Dudu Aouate. Sergio Ramos added the third in the 66th by volleying Fernando Gago's precise cross past Aouate as Madrid joined Sevilla in second place with 35 points after its third straight win under coach Juande Ramos.

"Recuperating points in the league race also depends on those above us, so we have to do our part ?? take three points at every stadium that we play in," Madrid defender Gabriel Heinze said.

Juan Arango volleyed over from close-range in the 55th for Mallorca, which has not won in eight games and remained in 19th place.

Lionel Messi scored Barcelona's winner in the 85th after gathering a loose ball, cutting across the area and beating goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez with a rising left-footed shot.

Xavi Hernandez, making his 300th league appearance, had equalized in the 80th as Barcelona recovered to stretch out its best-ever league start ?? unbeaten in the 17 games since an opening day defeat ?? and give it 47 points after its eighth straight road win.

Barcelona dominated in freezing weather early at the Reyno de Navarra with Messi unlucky to touch the inside of the post in the 11th after an individual run. But the Argentina forward then set up Barcelona's opening goal, feeding Samuel Eto'o at the top of the area for the Cameroon striker to score his league-leading 16th goal in the 45th.

Miguel Flano equalized with a looping header in the 63rd before Walter Pandiani put Osasuna ahead in the 73rd by redirecting Juanfran Torres' pass beyond Victor Valdes.

Also, Fernando Llorente scored two goals, including the second-half winner, as Athletic Bilbao rallied for a 3-2 victory at Atletico Madrid.

In other games on Sunday, it was: Real Betis 1, Malaga 2; Numancia 2, Getafe 0; Racing Santander 1, Recreativo Huelva 1; Sporting Gijon 2, Valladolid 1; and Espanyol 2, Almeria 2.


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