Nil-nil draw with lowly Osasuna leaves the defending champions further adrift
Jose Mourinho was under more pressure on Saturday when misfiring Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw at relegation-threatened Osasuna, a result which left the champions 15 points behind leaders Barcelona.
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 their desperate state was highlighted when substitute Kaka was sent-off in the second half.
Real Madrid are on 37 points in third place, four behind Atletico Madrid and they could trail Barcelona by 18 points on Sunday if the runaway leaders defeat fifth-place Malaga.
It was not until the 25th minute that there was a meaningful attempt on goal.
Osasuna defender Marc Beltran was alert to clear from almost on the goal-line after Higuain had rounded the goalkeeper and centred for Sami Khedira.
Angel Di Maria then shot over for Madrid while Alvaro Cejudo went close at the other end. Within a minute of the second-half, Casillas was called into his first meaningful action to block a drive from Kike Sola.
Mourinho changed things around just before the hour mark, replacing Higuain with Karim Benzema and introducing Kaka for a subdued Di Maria but things got worse for Madrid when Kaka received a second yellow card.
Spanish international forward Roberto Soldado got the goals as Valencia beat Sevilla 2-0. That makes it eleven goals in the league for Soldado and his side remain seventh on 30 points.
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.AFP