Real Madrid just four points clear after loss to Valencia

Real Madrid are just four points clear of Barcelona at the top of the Spanish Liga after suffering a late defeat 2-3 at home to spirited Valencia on Sunday. ( dpa )

Earlier on Sunday Barca thrashed lowly Valladolid 4-1 with two goals from 17 year-old Bojan Krkic.

These results leave Real with 62 points from 29 games and Barca with 58.

Valencia won with a cheeky goal from Javier Arizmendi just two minutes from time.

Veteran Raul Gonzalez had scored twice for Real, only for David Villa to reply with a brace for Valencia.

Valencia - who beat Barcelona on Thursday to reach the final of the King's Cup - made an energetic start in the Bernabeu and went ahead in the 34th minute, when Villa scored after being put clean through by fellow Spain striker David Silva.

But Raul levelled for Real just one minute later, by heading in a centre from Robinho.

In the 56th minute Raul made it 2-1 by converting a perfect pass from Guti. His second goal led to the "madridista" fans chanting for Raul's return to the national team.

Raul has not played for Spain since October 2006. On Saturday he was again overlooked by national manager Luis Aragones when announcing his squad for Wednesday's prestigious friendly against Italy.

Valencia refused to lie down. In the 66th minute they were given a penalty for a clumsy push by Fabio Cannavaro on Silva - and Villa calmly beat Iker Casillas from the spot.

Wesley Sneijder and Gonzalo Higuain had good chances to win the game for Real.

In the 88th minute, when a 2-2 draw seemed likely, Arizmendi broke free down the right, slipped past Cannavaro and beat Casillas with an impudent near-post shot.

Arizmendi's first goal for Valencia after eight months at the club gave them an unlikely win and takes them up to 10th, well clear now of the relegation zone.

"It was a lovely feeling to score such an important goal," Arizmendi said, "especially against opponents who are so difficult."

Real took the field against Valencia knowing that Barca had just thrashed Valladolid.

They did so with a promising display from Bojan and without Ronaldinho, who has been out with an injury that few fans now believe in.

The handsome win will give some breathing space to Barca coach Frank Rijkaard, under pressure after the cup defeat down in Valencia.

Samuel Eto'o opened the scoring for Barca in the 22nd minute on a pass from the promising Bojan.

Seven minutes later Valladolid were given a penalty for a clumsy push by Lilian Thuram on Joseba Llorente, and Jonathan Sesma made no mistake from the spot.

Barca were soon back in the driving seat. Andres Iniesta made it 2-1 two minutes into the second half with his left foot, after being set up by Bojan.

The teenager then decided to change from provider to finisher, taking centre stage from Iniesta and Eto'o. In the 62nd minute he made it 3-1 by turning in the rebound after Valladolid keeper Sergio Asenjo had failed to hold a free-kick from Xavi Hernandez.

Bojan completed the rout - and his best display yet for Barca - in the 84th minute with a left-foot goal, on a pass from Eto'o.

Barca now have two points more than third-placed Villarreal, who won 2-1 away to bottom team Levante with goals from Chilean Matias Fernandez and Mexican Guille Franco.

Franco has scored several late winners for Villarreal this season, and did so once again, with just seven minutes left.

In fourth place, six points behind Villarreal, are Atletico Madrid, 2-1 winners on Saturday away to sixth-placed Sevilla.

Between Atletico and Sevilla, in fifth place, are Racing Santander, who beat troubled Recreativo Huelva 2-0 with late goals from Sergio Orteman and Ebi Smolarek.

In seventh place now are Espanyol, who were surprisingly thrashed 4-0 by second-to-bottom Murcia.

Murcia are still in massive trouble on 26 points and in second-to- last place.

Huelva and Valladolid are on 32, Zaragoza on 33.

Zaragoza seemed to be on their way to a crucial home win over Almeria, thanks to a goal from Ricardo Oliveira. Just one minute from time, however, Alvaro Negredo made it 1-1 for Almeria, leaving Zaragoza in jeopardy.

One point above Zaragoza are Deportivo Coruna, who lost 1-0 to Mallorca on Saturday, and Osasuna, who lost 0-1 at home to Betis on Sunday.

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