Osasuna dent Real's title ambitions

Last Updated 13 January 2013, 18:46 IST

Real Madrid's faint hopes of retaining their La Liga title receded further when Kaka was sent off and they drew 0-0 at struggling Osasuna on Saturday, while Valencia climbed to seventh with a 2-0 win over Sevilla.

Jose Mourinho's Real side seemed lost without inspirational top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, suspended for the game in Pamplona. In a poor quality bad-tempered clash at the Reyno de Navarra stadium, the main incident came in the 76th minute when Kaka was shown a second yellow card for preventing Osasuna taking a quick free kick.

The little-used Brazilian playmaker had been on the pitch for a little over a quarter of an hour and was booked moments after coming off the bench for jumping with a flailing arm.
They dropped only 14 points in the whole of their triumphant 2011-12 campaign but have already drawn four games and lost four this term, while Barca have won all their matches except for a 2-2 draw at home to Real in October, when Ronaldo scored twice.

The Portuguese forward's absence was sorely felt, and Real have now failed to win the last three La Liga matches in which Ronaldo, who has scored 16 times this season, did not play.  Osasuna's well-earned point lifted them off the bottom of the table thanks to a superior goal difference compared with Deportivo La Coruna. Two goals from captain Roberto Soldado secured three points for Valencia at their Mestalla stadium as the club continued to improve under new coach Ernesto Valverde.

Soldado bundled the ball over the line at a 50th-minute corner and nodded home a second goal from another corner a minute from time to kill off the game.  German midfielder Patrick Ebert produced a scintillating performance to lead Real Valladolid to a 3-1 win at home to Real Mallorca in the earlier kickoff that lifted Miroslav Djukic's side to 10th on 25 points.

Espanyol recovered from last week's 4-0 drubbing at Barca and climbed to 16th on 18 points with a 1-0 home win over Celta Vigo. Sergio Garcia tapped in a Cristian Stuani centre in the 23rd minute.

Betis sparkle

Real Betis continued their impressive push for a European qualification place when in-form forward Ruben Castro created one goal and scored another in a 2-0 win at home to Levante on Sunday.

(Published 13 January 2013, 18:46 IST)

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