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Morata debut strike keeps Real in title chase

A late goal from debutant Alvaro Morata gave Real Madrid three vital points in a 2-1 away win over Levante on a rain-soaked pitch at the Estadio Ciudad.

Real were in danger of falling further behind Barcelona in the La Liga title race until Morata headed in a Xabi Alonso cross in the 84th minute. Alonso's late assist made up for a penalty he missed in the 71st minute.

Jose Mourinho's side had gone in front in the 21st minute when Alonso's free-kick from the left found Ronaldo, who controlled superbly and volleyed home.

Angel levelled after the hour mark having got on the end of an Obafemi Martins pass.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi surpassed Pele on the all-time list for most goals in a calendar year on Saturday and now has record holder Gerd Muller in his sights.

The Argentinian maestro bagged a brace in Barcelona's 4-2 win over Mallorca on Saturday night bringing his total in 2012 to date to 76. He needs 10 more goals before January 1 to surpass Der Bomber, who set the record in 1972.

The victory was the Catalan side's 10th in 11 games this season, with Messi joining Xavi and Cristian Tello on the scoresheet.

Atletico Madrid maintained their form with a 2-0 win over Getafe, with Adrian Lopez and Arda Turan netting first-half goals to earn the spoils for Diego Simeone's team.

In Italy, there was more woes for the Milan clubs as AC lost 3-1 to Fiorentina at the San Siro yesterday, while Atalanta beat Inter 3-2. Lazio claimed the spoils in a classic Rome derby, beating their bitter rivals 3-2, while champions Juventus stay on top of Serie A after they returned to winning ways with a 6-1 victory over Pescara.

It is as you were at the top of the Bundesliga as Bayern Munich beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 and Schalke beat Werder Bremen 2-1.

Irish Independent