Real Madrid holds off Rayo
Madrid, Spain (Sports Network) - Real Madrid claimed a 2-0 derby win over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday at the Bernabeu despite playing more than 70 minutes with 10 men.
The home side jumped out to a 2-0 lead inside of 12 minutes with goals from Alvaro Morata and Sergio Ramos before Ramos collected two quick yellow cards and received his marching orders in the 18th minute.
Rayo wasn't able to press its numerical advantage, however, and in the end Madrid comfortably saw out the rest of the match to stay within four points of second-place Atletico Madrid.
Morata was making his first start in league play and needed less than three minutes to find the net as he found himself on the other end of a low ball from Mesut Ozil at the back post and slotted it home.
Ozil was involved again in the 12th minute as Madrid doubled its lead from a free kick with the Germany international swinging the ball into the area for Ramos to head past goalkeeper Ruben.
Ramos then picked up two yellow cards in the span of a minute when he committed a foul on Roberto Trashorras and then handled a cross from Jose Manuel Casado, earning himself an early exit.
But Jose Mourinho's side was never really troubled after that, and Rayo drops to seventh place with the setback.
Atletico Madrid 3, Valladolid 0
Valladolid, Spain - Atletico Madrid claimed a much-needed win away from home on Sunday as the club downed Valladolid, 3-0, at the Jose Zorrilla.
The road victory is Atletico's first since Nov. 18 and it moves the team back to within 12 points of leaders Barcelona, while helping them remain four points clear of Real Madrid.
Radamel Falcao was on target after 11 minutes when he was on hand to fire home the rebound from Diego Godin's shot, while Diego Costa made it 2-0 early in the second half as Jorge Koke's header released him into the area for a simple finish.
Valladolid failed to put a shot on target over the course of 90 minutes and Cristian Rodriguez capped the scoring in stoppage time when he took advantage of some sloppy defending to beat goalkeeper Daniel Hernandez from a tight angle.
Real Sociedad 1, Levante 1
San Sebastian, Spain - Real Sociedad missed a chance to improve its Europa League hopes on Sunday after the club was held to a 1-1 draw at home by Levante.
Both goals were scored on first-half penalty kicks with Carlos Vela putting Sociedad ahead in the 18th minute, only for Michel to match his effort from the spot 10 minutes later.
Michel nearly put his side in front before halftime, but Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo tipped the shot onto the crossbar, while he saved the follow up effort from Pape Diop.
Levante was reduced to 10 men in the 57th minute when Nikos Karabelas picked up his second yellow card. However, the hosts didn't manage to seriously threaten the Levante goal and had to settle for a point.
Valencia 2, Mallorca 0
Valencia, Spain - Valencia collected three unlikely points on Sunday as Los Che secured a 2-0 home win against Mallorca despite playing the majority of the contest with 10 men.
Tino Costa received a straight red card in the 28th minute for a terrible foul on Mallorca's Jose Nunes, leaving the home side to play the final hour down a man.
But Valencia grabbed the lead from a corner kick just before the hour mark when Ricardo Costa got up to head home a corner kick from Sergio Canales.
Instead of answering back to level the score, Mallorca saw any hopes of grabbing a point slip away in the 81st minute when Roberto Soldado finished off a pass from Dani Parejo.
Valencia is now just two points back of fourth-place Malaga in the race for a Champions League place, while Mallorca is 19th and is six points from safety.
Espanyol 1, Real Betis 0
Barcelona, Spain - Espanyol's surge in form continued on Sunday as Sergio Garcia's seventh-minute goal was enough in a 1-0 home against Real Betis.
Espanyol has now won its last three games to move 11 points clear of the drop zone, while Betis is headed in the other direction having now gone winless in five successive fixtures.
Christian Stuani nearly scored in the opening minutes for Espanyol when his shot struck the outside of the post, but the opener came a few minutes later with Stuani playing provider as he picked out Garcia inside the area and he swept home the pass.
Betis had few chances in the game but mustered up a good one five minutes from time when a curling effort from Chica Torres managed to skim the post.