Jose Mourinho was under more pressure on Saturday when misfiring Real Madrid was held to a 0-0 draw at relegation-threatened Osasuna, a result which left the champion 15 points behind leader Barcelona in the Spanish League.
Madrid, devoid of any creativity, missed the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, who had scored five of his side’s eight goals in the last two games, and its desperate state was highlighted when substitute Kaka was sent-off in the second half.
Real Madrid is on 37 points in third place, four behind Atletico Madrid.
The Portuguese coach was questioned about captain Iker Casillas, who he recently controversially dropped, but refused to say if the goalkeeper would be in the team on Tuesday against Valencia in the Spanish Cup. Ronaldo missed his first game after 60 consecutive league appearances with a one-match suspension while Sergio Ramos was also absent at the start of a five-game ban.
Mourinho changed things around just before the hour mark, replacing Higuain with Karim Benzema and introducing Kaka for di Maria.
Kaka sent off
But things got worse for Madrid when Kaka received a second yellow card within 18 minutes of coming on, leaving his side a man down for the final 15 minutes. Spanish international forward Roberto Soldado got the goals as Valencia beat Sevilla 2-0.
German winger Patrick Ebert scored twice and set up the third for Oscar to help Valladolid beat Mallorca 3-1.
Sergio Garcia hit a first-half goal to give Espanyol a crucial 1-0 win over Celta Vigo and move the Barcelona side out of the relegation zone for the first time this season.
Inter Milan outclassed the league’s new boy Pescara 2-0 at the San Siro on Saturday to move two places up to third and close the gap to leader Juventus to six points.
The results: On Saturday: Spanish league: Valladolid 3 (Ebert 21, 90+3, Oscar 88) bt Real Mallorca 1 (Victor 38); Espanyol 1 (Sergio Garcia 24) bt Celta Vigo 0; Osasuna 0 drew with Real Madrid 0; Valencia 2 (Soldado 50, 88) bt Sevilla 0.
Italian league: Bologna 4 (Kone 13, Gilardino 44, 59, Gabbiadini 89) bt Chievo 0; Inter 2 (Palacio 30, Guarin 54) bt Pescara 0.
Keywords: Spanish League