Madrid top with Malaga win; Barca beats Valencia
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain scored twice each as Real Madrid beat Malaga 4-1 to go top of the Spanish league, while Barcelona used a second-half surge to top Valencia 2-1 and keep pace with its main rival.sports Updated: Oct 18, 2010 11:21 IST
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain scored twice each as Real Madrid beat Malaga 4-1 to go top of the Spanish league, while Barcelona used a second-half surge to top Valencia 2-1 and keep pace with its main rival.
Ronaldo was instrumental in each Madrid goal, starting with his feed to Higuain for the opener after half an hour before he slotted Mesut Oezil's pass into the empty net in the 45th minute yesterday.
Oezil was fouled inside the area to set up a 50th-minute penalty that Ronaldo blasted past goalkeeper Rodrigo Galatto for his league-leading sixth goal of the season.
Kris Stadsgaard pulled one back for Malaga in the 55th but Ronaldo slid a pass over to Higuain 10 minutes later for the striker to fire his fourth of the season past the outstretched Galatto.
Madrid's most convincing road win of the season bolstered it for its midweek Champions League match against AC Milan.
Meanwhile, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol led Barcelona's rally as it joined Valencia with 16 points, one behind Madrid. David Villa suited up against his former club for the first time since his summer transfer, while Barcelona also counted on Xavi Hernandez after the midfielder recovered from tendinitis.
While Valencia 'keeper Cesar Sanchez frustrated Villa from his first opportunity in the 20th minute, the visitors enjoyed the better first-half chances and took advantage of Barcelona's vulnerable defense for a 38th-minute opener on the counterattack at the Camp Nou Stadium.
Jeremy Mathieu burst into space down the left side to find Pablo Hernandez in front of goal to push it past Valdes despite the Catalan 'keeper getting a hand to it.
Valdes kept Valencia from stretching its lead with a save to Hernandez's shot from the edge of the area in the 41st, while Mathieu blocked a Lionel Messi try at the other end just before the close of the half.
Iniesta started the fightback as the Barcelona midfielder swapped passes with Xavi before slotting a 47th-minute equalizer under Sanchez. "That goal brought us back to life,'' Iniesta said.
"We changed some things in our system going into the second half so that it would work."