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Misfiring Real lose ground at top as Barca bandwagon gathers pace

HAVING gained ground on Barcelona in recent weeks, Real Madrid slipped up on the road and handed the initiative back to the Catalans on Saturday night.

Jose Mourinho's men failed to find a way past Deportivo la Coruna at the Riazor despite dominating for large parts. Home goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia produced a string of saves as the game finished 0-0.

Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil all tried their luck without success before the break. Ronaldo had the ball in the net but was deemed to be offside, while the stopper made some crucial saves as the hosts held out for a draw.

Lionel Messi, David Villa and Pedro were on target for leaders Barca as they cruised to a 3-0 dismissal of Mallorca.

Despite being without Xavi, Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes and Dani Alves, Pep Guardiola's side were 1-0 up at half-time through Messi's strike, before the Spain duo did the damage after the break.


Nilmar struck in injury-time for Villareal to battle back for a 2-2 draw away at Racing Santander.

Racing led first through Ariel Nahuelpan before Marco Ruben levelled. Then Giovani dos Santos put Racing ahead again, but Nilmar earned a valuable point for the fourth-placed Yellow Submarine.

In Serie A, Udinese romped to a remarkable 7-0 win over Palermo thanks to four Alexis Sanchez goals and an Antonio di Natale hat-trick.

Roma were held to a 2-2 draw by Parma, while Fiorentina were held to a 1-1 draw by Bari.

In Germany, Borussia Dortmund moved a major step closer to the title with a 3-1 win at Bayern Munich. Goals from Lucas Barrios, Nuri Sahin and Mats Hummels gave Dortmund a 13-point lead at the top.

In France, Rennes went top of the Ligue 1 table thanks to a 2-0 win over Lens, Abdoulrazak Boukari scoring against his former club. Marseille won 2-1 away at Nancy and PSG beat Toulouse 2-1 at home.

Irish Independent