Real Madrid missed a good chance to go on top of the Spanish Liga on Sunday, being held to a 0-0 draw away to dogged Osasuna.

A win in Pamplona would have pushed Real above Barcelona on first place. But Osasuna were solid in defence and intense in midfield, and the whites wasted the few chances that they managed to create.

Gonzalo Higuain squandered two good openings for Real in the second half. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo also went close for the visitors.

Veteran sub Raul had what looked like a fair goal wrongly disallowed for offside.

“It was a difficult game for us,” said Real anchorman Xabi Alonso.

“They harried and chased for every ball,” he added, “and we were never really comfortable.” Real now have 38 points from 16 games, two fewer than Barca.

In third place, on 38, are Valencia, who beat Espanyol 1-0 at home on Saturday thanks to an injury-time winner from Nikola Zigic.

Earlier on Saturday, Mallorca had moved up to joint fourth with a 2-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao.

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