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Real Madrid beats Mallorca 3-0; Barcelona rallies to win

RAUL Gonzalez marked his 500th Spanish league game for Real Madrid with a goal yesterday 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 as the Netherlands forward 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' hard 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. The Spain striker stole from Tomas Ujfalusi in the 50th and his deflected shot beat goalkeeper Leo Franco for the winner. Llorente redirected in David Lopez's pass in the 66th for his eighth goal of the season.

Antonio Lopez gave Atletico the lead in the 16th, but Koikili Lertxundi equalized with a hard shot at the short side in the 45th.

Diego Forlan scored his 12th goal of the season in injury time as Atletico, which had a penalty appeal by Sergio Aguero turned away and Maniche sent off in the 73rd, stayed even with Villarreal and Deportivo La Coruna at 30 points.

Some fans called for coach Javier Aguirre to resign with Atletico winless in three games to start 2009.

Also yesterday, 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.

Eliseu Pereira scored an injury-time winner as Malaga hung on to beat nine-man Betis to stay eighth with 28 points. Malaga led through Antonio Galdeano's 19th-minute penalty before Betis saw Juan Andreu sent off in the 23rd.

Achille Emana rallied Betis with a 38th-minute equalizer, but then picked up a second yellow card in the 68th for a tug on Eliseu.

Betis still dominated play with Malaga goalkeeper Inaki Goita denying both Sergio Garcia and Damia Abella from close range in the second half.

Javier Barkero and Carlos Aranda scored to lead Numancia in freezing weather and thick fog at Los Pajaritos stadium, where Getafe played with 10 from the fifth minute after goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri was red-carded for tripping Gorka Brit, who fell dramatically.

Numancia improved to 20 points -- six above the relegation zone.

At El Molinon, Carmelo Gonzalez and David Barral's first-half goals led Sporting over Valladolid, which lost its fourth straight in all competitions after being reduced to 10 men in the 31st when Alberto Marcos was sent off.

Garcia Calvo scored in the 88th for Valladolid, with the two clubs meeting for the third time in a week on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey -- Sporting holds a 3-1 lead from the first leg of the knockout competition.

Racing stretched its unbeaten run to seven games at El Sardinero thanks to Jonathan Pereira's goal in the 34th, while Javier Camunas equalized in the 43rd after an individual run.

Nicolas Pareja scored from a free kick in the fifth minute of injury-time as Espanyol rallied from a two-goal deficit, with Kalu Uche scoring both for Almeria. Roman Martinez also scored for Espanyol, which is winless in eight games and stays in the last relegation zone with 15 points.

On Saturday, 10-man Sevilla rallied for a 3-1 victory over Deportivo La Coruna while Villarreal came back to draw 3-3 with Valencia.


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