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Real Madrid open up gap at top of LaLiga on matchday 16

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-12-06 11:40
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Real Madrid's Luka Modric in action with Real Sociedad's Ander Barrenetxea at Reale Arena in San Sebastian, Spain, Dec 4, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

MADRID - Real Madrid took a decisive lead at the top of LaLiga after a 2-0 win away to title rivals Real Sociedad, coupled with an important setback for Atletico Madrid and another defeat for FC Barcelona.

Real Madrid took all three points in San Sebastian thanks to second-half goals from Vinicius Jr and Luka Jovic, with the only possible worry for Carlo Ancelotti's men being a muscle injury suffered by Karim Benzema in the first half.

Jovic helped set up Vinicius for the opening goal and then scored the second himself from a corner.

Atletico crashed 2-1 at home to Mallorca, with Real Madrid loanee Take Kubo, sliding the winning goal home after being put through on goal in the last minute.

Diego Simeone's men had an off day in front of goal, despite Matheus Cunha putting them ahead from close range in the 67th minute. However, Franco Russo's powerful header 12 minutes later got Mallorca level to help set up Kubo's winner.

Atletico also lost Stefan Savic through injury ahead of a vital week of matches.

Sevilla move second after edging past Villarreal 1-0 thanks to Lucas Ocampos's first-half goal following a cross to the far post from Marcos Acuna.

Villarreal continue to misfire and their failure to take several chances, with Gerard Moreno's second-half miss, especially surprising, continues to handicap Unai Emery's men.

Betis are third after Juanmi scored his ninth goal of the season as his side won 1-0 away in the Camp Nou to end Xavi Hernandez's unbeaten record as Barca coach.

Xavi started with Gerard Pique and Frenkie de Jong on the subs' bench ahead of their vital Champions League visit to play Bayern Munich next week. Barca produced another bright start, but again failed to score and Betis gradually took control, especially after Gavi was carried off after banging his head (he was later released from hospital after undergoing tests).

The introduction of Ousmane Dembele as a second-half substitute got Barca back on the front foot, but as they were looking likely to score, Betis caught them on the break, with Juanmi slotting home after Sergio Canales led a counter-attack.

The result means this is Barca's worst start to a season in 18 years.

Rayo Vallecano continue their excellent return to the top-flight with a 1-0 win at home to Espanyol.

Rayo were excellent for 60 minutes but needed a stroke of luck to take the lead through Leandro Cabrera's own goal, although they then defended solidly to hold on for another win.

Francisco Rodriguez enjoyed a winning debut at Elche as his side won 3-1 at home to Cadiz to climb up to 16th in the table thanks to goals from Fidel Chaves and Tete Morente. Alex Fernandez wasted a great chance for Cadiz in the 24th minute when he missed a penalty with Elche 1-0 ahead but scored in the first minute of injury time before Josan Fernandez sealed the points for Elche in the 93rd minute.

Former Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez scored against his old club to give Valencia a 2-1 away win in a game marked by defensive errors in the first two goals.

Iago Aspas put Celta ahead in the 10th minute but was forced off two minutes later with a muscle injury, shortly before Hugo Duro equalized after Celta made a mess of playing the ball out from defense.

Levante remain without a win after a 0-0 draw at home to Osasuna in a game in a dull game where Levante winger Jorge Frutos' shot against the post was the closest either side came to scoring.

On Friday night Granada claimed three vital points with a 2-1 win at home to Alaves.

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