Barcelona held at Villarreal

Barcelona slip up with a goalless draw as bitter rivals Real Madrid move clear in Spain's Primera Division.

    A frustrating stalemate for Spanish champions Barcelona allows Real to move seven points clear [GETTY]

    Real Madrid opened up a seven-point lead at the top Spain’s Primera Division with a comfortable 3-1 win over bottom side Real Zaragoza as Barcelona could only draw 0-0 at lowly Villarreal on Saturday.

    The league leaders recovered quickly from their midweek King's Cup quarter-final exit to arch-rivals Barca and it was Pep Guardiola's victors who seemed to suffer a hangover.

    The European and Spanish champions are facing a mini-injury crisis and looked stale and short on ideas at the Madrigal when Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas missed gilt-edged chances.

    Their pursuit of a fourth consecutive league title is now an even steeper uphill struggle as they seek to catch Jose Mourinho's men after yet another poor showing on the road.

    Real's 17th win from 20 league games left them top on 52 points, with Barca second on 45. Valencia in third with 35 visit Racing Santander on Sunday.

    Real pressure

    Results & fixtures

    Saturday January 28

    Espanyol 1-0 Mallorca
    Vallecano 2-3 Bilbao
    Real Madrid 3-1 Zaragoza
    Villarreal 0-0 Barcelona

    Sunday January 29

    Real Betis v Granada
    Levante v Getafe
    Sociedad v Gijon
    Santander v Valencia
    Malaga v Sevilla

    Monday January 30

    Osasuna v Atletico Madrid

    Angel Lafita gave Zaragoza a surprise early lead at the Bernabeu after a quickly taken freekick in the 11th minute but thoughts of a first win since mid-October quickly disappeared.

    Kaka squeezed a low shot under Roberto to level in the 32nd minute and Cristiano Ronaldo tapped in his 24th league goal of the campaign just after the restart.

    Mesut Ozil netted with a fierce drive after a slick passing move in the 56th and Zaragoza rarely threatened again.

    Manolo Jimenez's side remain six points adrift at the foot of the standings with 12 points, and are without a win in 13 outings.

    Espanyol are fifth with 31 points and Athletic Bilbao sixth on 29 after both won earlier on Saturday.

    Espanyol recovered from a shock midweek King's Cup quarter-final exit against tiny third-tier side Mirandes to beat 10-man Real Mallorca 1-0 at home.

    Vladimir Weiss capitalised on an error from Mallorca's Israeli goalkeeper Dudu Aouate to put the Catalans in front after 18 minutes, but they failed to make the extra man count when Aouate was harshly sent off just after the break.

    Spain striker Fernando Llorente scored a hat-trick as Cup semi-finalists Bilbao came from behind to win 3-2 in a pulsating encounter at Rayo Vallecano.

    The powerful frontman nodded in the equaliser, controlled a long ball and turned his marker to put them 2-1 up, and headed the winner for his 11th league goal this season.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Assad to Putin: Thank you for 'saving our country'

    Assad to Putin: Thank you for 'saving our country'

    Russian and Syrian presidents meet to discuss strategy against 'terrorism' and political settlement options.

    Is Saudi Arabia becoming a danger to the region?

    Is Saudi Arabia becoming a danger to the region?

    We talk to US Congressman Ro Khanna about power politics and debate Mohammed bin Salman's new strategy for the Kingdom.

    Gender violence in India: 'Daughters are not a burden'

    Gender violence in India: 'Daughters are not a burden'

    With female foeticide still widespread, one woman tells her story of being mutilated for giving birth to her daughters.