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Barcelona Extend Lead with Win over Villarreal
    2008-12-22 11:55:45     Xinhua

Villarreal's Robert Pires (L) controls the ball past Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Madrigal Stadium in Villarreal Dec. 21, 2008.Goals from Seydou Keita and Thierry Henry allowed FC Barcelona to fight back from a goal down to win 2-1 in Villarreal on Sunday in the Spanish Primera Liga. [Photo: Xinhua/Reuters]

Goals from Seydou Keita and Thierry Henry allowed FC Barcelona to fight back from a goal down to win 2-1 in Villarreal on Sunday in the Spanish Primera Liga.

Barcelona had lost the same fixture a year ago and it looked as if they could be in for a repeat performance when Cani put the home side ahead with a neat finish two minutes into the second half.

However, two goals in an eight minute spell turned the game around. Barcelona had Gerard Pique sent off late in the second half, but held on for all the points.

They have now beaten every side in the top six and lead the Primera Liga table by 10 points.

Real Madrid kicked off the weekend with a 1-0 win over Valenciato just about stay in the title race. Gonzalo Higuain's first half goal separating the two sides in what was Juande Ramos' Primera Liga debut in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Real Madrid also hit the woodwork in two occasions, but could thank goalkeeper Iker Casillas for the win after Valencia dominated the second half, despite the red card shown to captain Carlos Marchena.

Despite their triumph, Real Madrid remains 12 points behind Barcelona, but has climbed up to fifth place.

Saturday also saw Atletico Madrid win an entertaining game against struggling Espanyol 3-2 in the Olympic Stadium in Montjuic.

Former Espanyol midfielder Maxi Rodriguez scored twice for the visitors, while Kun Aguero also added to his tally. Espanyol meanwhile has lost all three games since the arrival of Mane as first team coach and are deep in relegation trouble. Atletico meanwhile climbs to third place in the table.

Apart from the Barcelona game, Sunday saw an afternoon filled with goals.

Osasuna had only scored eight goals all season, but was 4-0 up at half time at home to Getafe in a game that finished 5-2.

Jaroslav Plasil opened the scoring and was followed by Juanfran, Walter Pandiani, Javed Nekounam and Hector Font. Roberto Soldado scored twice for the visitors.

There were also seven goals in Soria, where Numancia beat Valladolid 4-3. Valladolid had taken a 3-1 lead only for Javier del Pino, Nacho Aranda and Gorka Brit to score in the last seven minutes to keep the points at home.

Deportivo la Coruna maintained their positive start to the campaign with an easy 4-1 win at home to Recreativo Huelva.

Alberto Lopo, Sergio Gonzalez, Rodolfo Bodipo and Filipe all found the net for the home team.

Sporting Gijon took another step towards safety as they defeated Almeria 1-0 in El Molinon, where Francisco Maldonado netted the only goal of the game. The defeat cost Almeria coach Gonzalo Arconada his job as he was sacked after the game.

Racing Santander and Malaga drew 1-1, while Mallorca climbed out of the relegation zone despite a 0-0 draw at home to Sevilla, who move into second place behind Barcelona.

Finally Athletic Club Bilbao can thank midfielder Javi Martinez for giving them all three points as his first half goal sealed a 1-0 win away to Betis.

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