Ruud Van Nistelrooy doubles his side's advantage
[AFP]
Real Madrid defeated their local rivals Atletico Madrid 2-0 after goals from Raul Gonzalez and Ruud van Nistelrooy kept the champions at the top of the Primera Liga table.

Real had the lead after only 33 seconds when Raul guided Robinho's short pass from the left inside the far post.

"My goal brought us calm and, when it looked like they might equalise, Van Nistelrooy decided it,'' said Raul, who scored his 11th career goal in the city derby.

After a flurry of Atletico chances, Van Nistelrooy volleyed a corner in the 41st minute.

Madrid's seventh straight league victory kept it seven points ahead of second-place FC Barcelona, which beat Racing Santander 1-0 thanks to Thierry Henry's 31st-minute header.

Madrid improved to 50 points after 20 rounds.

Villarreal, which beat Valencia 3-0 on Saturday, moved into third with 38 points, one ahead of Atletico.

Earlier, Joseba Llorente scored two goals, including the fastest in league history, to lead Valladolid over Espanyol 2-1.

Also Sunday, it was Zaragoza 3, Murcia 1; Levante 2, Mallorca 2; Osasuna 2, Athletic Bilbao 0; Real Betis 1, Recreativo Huelva 1; and Almeria 1, Deportivo La Coruna 0.

Atletico strikers Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero forced goalkeeper Iker Casillas into fingertip saves after Raul put Real Madrid ahead.

Midfielder Thiago Motta also hit the post before to Van Nistelrooy's goal.

Van Nistelrooy swerved to meet Wesley Sneijder's corner at the far post, sending it past the outstretched Christian Abbiati.

Casillas denied Forlan again to close the first half.

With Atletico pressing, Madrid launched a counterattack with Sneijder hitting into the side netting in the 57th.

Sergio Aguero came close in the 80th for Atletico, the Argentina striker shooting wide as Madrid stayed unbeaten at the Vicente Calderon since 1999.

"It wasn't very spectacular but it was necessary,'' Madrid coach Bernd Schuster said.

"We didn't win because of luck, that was clear, especially in the second half when they didn't have a chance on goal.''

Madrid's only worry was the condition of center back Pepe, who had to leave in the 11th clutching his right leg.

A new jig: Barcelona's Thierry Henry celebrates [AFP] 
Barca keep up the pressure

At the Camp Nou, Henry made up for an earlier miss when defender Cesar Navas redirected a corner directly into the path of the France striker.

Goalkeeper Victor Valdes kept a clean sheet with a diving stop in the 57th, thwarting Oscar Serrano who cut through the Barcelona defense to unleash a swerving shot.

Lionel Messi replaced Giovani Dos Santos in the 66th, his first appearance since missing over a month to a leg injury.

At Valladolid, Llorente scored seven seconds after kickoff, then slotted in a loose ball in the 34th for his fifth goal in two games, knocking Espanyol to fifth and out of the coveted places reserved for the European Champions League.

Marc Torrejon converted a header in the 59th for Espanyol, which lost its second straight after a 14-game unbeaten run and remained with 36 points.

Diego Milito scored twice and Ricardo Oliveira opened the scoring, handing Zaragoza coach Ander Garitano a winning league debut.

Oliveira scored his ninth in the 34th and Milito added his in the 62nd and 82nd to join Sevilla's Luis Fabiano atop the league scoring leaders with 13.

Oliveira and Milito have combined for 22 of Zaragoza's 32 league goals.

Ivan Alonso scored for Murcia.

Alvaro Luiz Maior's header in the 89th salvaged a draw for last-place Levante.

Daniel Guiza rallied Mallorca with goals in the 31st and 79th after Alexandre Geijo gave Levante the lead in the 19th.

Osasuna rule Basque derby

In a Basque derby played in near blanket fog, Eduardo "Dady" Fernandes opened for Osasuna with a free kick in the 67th, and striker Carlos Vela, on loan from Arsenal, volleyed a flicked-on ball inside the top of the near post two minutes later.

Betis' Edu Schmidt got over the back of Hipolito Fernandez to head Juan Pablo Caffa's long, looping cross home in the 57th, before Recreativo's Javier Guerrero responded a minute later with a powerful header.

An 88th-minute winner was enough for Almeria, with Ruben Pulido poking in a flicked-on ball inside the box for the win.

Cosmin Contra's injury-time header handed Getafe a 3-2 win over Sevilla on Saturday.

Source: Agencies