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Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-1 in Spain's Primera Liga

(Xinhua)

09:46, December 12, 2011

MADRID, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-1 in Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Saturday night to leave the race for Spain's BBVA Primera Liga title wide open in the standout match of the 16th round of games.

A win for Madrid would have left them six points clear of Barca with a game in hand and Jose Mourinho's side got a perfect start when Karim Benzema scored after 25 seconds following a poor clearance from Victor Valdes.

Alexis Sanchez levelled after 30 minutes following a Leo Messi pass and a deflected shot from Xavi Hernandez, who was making his 600th appearance for Barca, put them ahead after 52 minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo missed a simple header to equalize, before Cesc Fabrigas put Barca 3-1 up after 65 minutes from a Dani Alves cross. Barca could have scored more goals in the closing minutes, but the win is a huge morale boost for the team which flew to Japan to play in the World Club Championships immediately after the match.

Levante remain fourth in the BBVA Primera Liga table thanks to a win over Sevilla, who had kicked off fifth and with hopes of moving into the top four themselves.

A left foot shot from central defender Nano after 56 minutes decided a hard fought, but dull game.

Saturday also Betis end a 10 game run without a win in dramatic fashion as Ruben Castro scored twice in injury time to give them a vital 2-1 win at home to third placed Valencia.

Valencia had taken the lead through a Jose Antonio Dorado own goal, but there was a certain justice to Betis' triumph as they had lost their last two games to injury time goals.

Sporting Gijon kicked off Sunday with a 3-1 win away to Rayo Vallecano. The result sees Sporting return to winning ways following consecutive defeats, while Rayo drop closer to the relegation zone after suffering their fourth consecutive defeat.

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