Real move eight points clear

Real Madrid grab a late winner to extend their lead in Spain's Primera Division and keep the pressure on rivals Barca.

    Real Madrid are due to meet Catalan giants Barcelona in the Copa del Rey quarters on Wednesday [GETTY]

    Jose Callejon grabbed a late winner for Real Madrid as Jose Mourinho's men fought back from a goal down to defeat Mallorca 2-1 and go eight points clear of bitter rivals Barcelona at the top of Spain’s Primera Division on Saturday.

    The win piled the pressure on champions Barcelona who tackle Real Betis at home on Sunday.

    Israeli international Tomer Hemed put Mallorca in front in the first-half and it looked like a surprise result was on the cards before substitute Gonzalo Higuain gave Madrid hope with a 71st minute equaliser.

    Callejon then struck what could prove to be a crucial winner in the 82nd minute of a game where Real were second best in the first half.

    Strong start

    Mallorca were well-organised at the start, content to relinquish possession to Madrid, and which allowed the island side to counter-attack with pace.

    The quick Victor Casadesus had the first opportunity when he narrowly failed to steer the ball home after good work from Hemed on the right on nine minutes.

    Next it was Hemed's turn to worry the Madrid goal after being put clear by Casadesus.

    The breakthrough came for the home side on 38 minutes when Chori Castro created the space to whip in a cross at pace for Hemed to stoop in front of the Madrid defence and glance a header past goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

    Sergio Ramos replied with the leaders' first real chance on the stroke of half-time with a header that crashed against the post and there was still time for Lass Diarra to try from distance before the break.

    Castro and Hemed linked up again on 53 minutes when the Israeli sent another header just wide from a corner.

    Mourinho, having already sent on Higuain at half-time, introduced Kaka and Fabio Coentrao just before the hour mark in a bid to fire his team into action.

    Casillas then had to turn a Michael Pereira shot past the post.

    Dudu Aouate remained untroubled in the Mallorca goal until the 72nd minute when Higuain turned in the equaliser with the help of a deflection after a clever through ball from Mesut Ozil.

    Results & fixtures

    Saturday January 14

    Granada 1-2 Rayo
    Zaragoza 1-1 Getafe
    Sevilla 0-0 Espanyol
    Mallorca 1-2 Real Madrid
    Valencia v Real Sociedad

    Sunday January 15

    Atletico Madrid v Villarreal
    Osasuna v Racing Santander
    Athletic Bilbao v Levante
    Sporting Gijon v Malaga
    Barcelona v Real Betis

    Two minutes later and Cristiano Ronaldo slammed a shot against the crossbar as Madrid were suddenly in control.

    Ramos had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside decision on 76 minutes and it looked like Mallorca had done enough for a point when Aouate came off his line to block at the feet of Higuain on 84 minutes.

    However, the ball fell to Callejon who thumped the ball past the stranded keeper to give Madrid a vital win and boost their hopes of winning back the title that Barcelona have held for the last three seasons.

    Sevilla draw

    Earlier, sixth-placed Sevilla were booed off by their own fans after a 0-0 draw with Espanyol dealt another blow to their Champions League hopes.

    Sevilla spurned early chances to take the lead through Manu del Moral, Martin Caceres and Jose Antonio Reyes, who was playing only his third game since returning to the club.

    Del Moral went close again on 27 minutes with a drive that was blocked by Francisco Casilla in the Espanyol goal.

    The shots continued to rain in on Espanyol, who held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw last weekend, as Sevilla enjoyed all the possession with Piotr Trochowski going close from a free-kick and Reyes lifting a chance over the crossbar.

    At the other end Espanyol managed to carve out an isolated chance when Alvaro Vazquez, who was on target against Barca, almost surprised Sevilla with a long shot on 36 minutes.

    Sevilla continued to advance with a slick passing game that produced attack after attack, the best chance falling to Spanish international Alvaro Negredo.

    Bottom club Zaragoza missed a great opportunity to make up ground when they could only draw 1-1 at home to Getafe.

    They had Mauricio Lanzaro to thank for a first-half lead after the Italian full-back powerfully headed home a corner on 38 minutes.

    However Zaragoza central defender Javier Paredes was unfortunate when a Pedro Leon corner struck him and landed over the line to give Getafe a share of the points with 12 minutes remaining.

    The draw leaves Zaragoza stranded at the bottom, four points behind Sporting Gijon and five behind Villarreal.

    SOURCE: AFP


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