La Liga Round-Up
By Steve Luckings
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Argentina international Roberto Ayala scored his first goal since his strike against the Liga champions last season with a bullet second half header, before Raul won a controversial penalty when it was he who looked to be backing into Carlos Marchena, of which Luis Figo duly converted.
The game begun with Michele Salgado connecting with a thunderous shot that forced Santiago Canizares to pull off a full-length save, while Mista was unlucky with a superb acrobatic volley on 20 minutes.
England captain David Beckham had Canizares scrambling with a dangerous free kick while Ruben Baraja hit a free kick of his own just over in a goalless first half.
Ayala powered home Ricardo Oliviera's corner with 16 minutes left to play and they looked to be heading for a famous scalp over their title rivals until the penalty decision in the 91st minute, which Figo astutely slotted home to keep Real top.
Barcelona remain fourth after a convincing 3-1 win over Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou.
Argentine international Javier Saviola took just nine minutes to put the Catalan side in front, although his strike was cancelled out 12 minutes later through Demis Nikolaidis.
Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho continued his good run of form to put Barca back in front on 24 minutes and Luis Garcia scored the decisive third two minutes before half time.
One sour note for Frank Rijkaard's side was the sending off of Dutch terrier Edgar Davids with just over 20 minutes remaining for a second bookable offence.
Deportivo La Coruna kept pace with the top two in La Liga thanks to a 2-0 win over Osasuna at La Riazor.
Victor did the damage in the first half with two strikes on 22 and 36 minutes and Osasuna also had a man sent off in the second half in the shape of Pablo Garcia to compond a miserable night for them.
Villarreal saw off a spirited comeback from Racing Santander to win 6-3 at Estadio El Madrigal.
An eventful first half saw four goals with a Juan Roman Riquelme penalty sandwiched in between two Juliano Belletti strikes with Yossi Benayoun netting Racing's reply.
Racing showed they were up for the battle and pulled another goal back through a Cristian Alvarez penalty eight minutes after the re-start, before Villarreal finally cut loose with goals from Jose Mari and Sonny Anderson, while Banayoun claimed his second of the game with seven minutes remaining before a Pablo Casar own goal completed the scoring.
Real Betis were shocked by an early goal but still managed to claim victory over struggling Real Zaragoza at Estadio Manuel Ruiz de Lopera.
Zaragoza caught the home side napping on two minutes to allow Ruben Gracia Cani to score before Brazilian winger Denilson restored parity.
Perez Alfonzo scored a second for Betis seven minutes before the interval to send his side into a half-time lead which proved enough to win the match.
Celta Vigo were successful on their travels as they claimed a 2-0 win over Real Valladolid at Estadio Nuevo Jose Zorrilla.
Alexander Mostovoi put Celta in front a minute into the second half and Jesuli made it two with just minutes to spare.
Malaga thumped lowly Espanyol 4-2 at Estadio La Rosaleda.
Miguel Angel got the ball rolling with a strike on 35 minutes before Manu and Juanito added their names to the scoresheet with Alberto Lopo making it 3-1 at half time.
Salva Ballesta made it four on the hour mark with Raul Tamudo netting the Catalan side's second with 15 minutes to go.
Albacete remain in the relegation places but picked up a creditable point away to Mallorca.
The game at Estadio Son Moix finished goalless but the strugglers will be pleased to have picked up a point against the Islanders.
La Liga Results:
Barcelona 3-1 Atletico Madrid
Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 Osasuna
Malaga 4-2 Espanyol
Mallorca 0-0 Albacete
Real Betis 2-1 Real Zaragoza
Real Madrid 1-1 Valencia
Valladolid 0-2 Celta Vigo
Villarreal 6-3 Racing Santander