Real Madrid CF fell to a 1-0 defeat at Real Betis Balompié, leaving the Merengues third, eight points behind Liga leaders FC Barcelona.
The home side were sprightly from the outset and took a 17th-minute lead when Beñat skipped past a challenge and fired beyond Iker Casillas into the bottom left corner from range. Madrid had their chances in the second half. Ángel López cleared off the line under the nose of Karim Benzema and Adrián made two excellent saves – first parrying Kaka's long-range strike and later blocking a point-blank Benzema header. The breakthrough was not forthcoming, however, and José Mourinho's men could begin next week 11 points adrift in the title race.
Málaga CF, meanwhile, moved fourth after overpowering Valencia CF 4-0. Promising youngster Francisco Portillo curled in early on, but the match hung in the balance until the 74th minute, when the floodgates opened. Javier Saviola thumped in a low second and substitute Roque Santa Cruz added another seven minutes later. Valencia defender Adil Rami was dismissed for a second booking, and Isco rubbed salt into the wound with an added-time fourth.
Rayo Vallecano de Madrid beat RCD Mallorca 2-0 with two goals in the last three minutes, while a 1-0 defeat at Real Valladolid CF leaves Granada CF one point off the relegation zone.
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