La Liga round-up
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Real Madrid moved to within four points of Barcelona after an eventful weekend.Real Madrid have moved to within four points of Barcelona, ahead of next weekend's much anticipated clash between the two titans of Spanish football.
Frank Rijkaard's entertainers had previously been unbeaten this term but Sunday's trip to Real Betis ended in a 2-1 defeat.
Betis are currently languishing in the bottom half of the table but on home soil, backed by a partisan crowd, were more than a match for their Catalan visitors.
The first period was played largely in Betis territory but while Deco and Ronaldinho sparkled intermittently, Betis stood firm.
Rafael Marquez squandered the visitor's first genuine opportunity when after being played in by a glorious flick from Ronaldinho, he could only drag a tepid effort wide.
Barca's Brazilian has been La Liga's brightest star this term but he too showed he is fallible when passing up a glorious chance to score, when he headed straight at Antonio Doblas when unmarked from eight yards.
Ronaldinho then went to close to registering with another header but it was Betis' sought-after Joaquin that produced the moment of the half when his deceptive drop of the shoulder and drive needed an excellent stop from Victor Valdes.
Betis began the second period in an agressive fashion and were duly rewarded for their attacking intentions just three minutes in.
Hesitancy in the Barca backline allowed Joaquin time to cross and when he found Edu, the Betis striker finished with style at the far post.
Marcos Assuncao could have brought Betis' second but on 68 minutes, his miss was forgotten after Ricardo Oliveira capitalised on a rare Carles Puyol error to double the home side's advantage.
Led by Ronaldinho, Barca pressed for a breakthrough of their own and duly reduced the deficit when Gerard bundled home Deco's right wing delivery.
Samuel Eto'o missed a glorious chance to level when he struck the post and Ronaldinho hinted at an equalizer every time he took possession.
However, Barca lost their unbeaten record thanks to the staunch defending of Betis' rearguard.
Whilst Barca suffered a rare off day, Real Madrid reminded the rest of La Liga of their considerable prowess with a mesmerising display against Albacete on home soil.
The capital outfit are in a rich vein of form since their early season aberrations and the return of David Beckham coincided with a 6-1 success.
Ronaldo set the pace in the opening moments when he headed home after Raul's cute flick-on from a corner.
The Brazilian was in an imperious mood all evening and looking lean and hungry for action, he ripped apart the Albacete backline with his sublime gifts.
However, on 14 minutes and the visitors were level after the much criticised Walter Samuel was guilty of some school boy defending to allow Javier Francisco to net a leveller.
Albacete's impertinence rattled Real's stars and it was Zinedine Zidane that began to orchestrate from the middle of the park.
First, he unleashed a beautiful drive from distance - with little backlift - to restore Madrid's advantage and then after dancing down the left flank, he crossed perfectly for Raul to dispatch with style.
Within minutes of the restart and Samuel atoned for his earlier error when he headed home Beckham's free-kick after peeling off his marker at the far post.
Michael Owen came off the bench to notch his fourth goal in four league appearances from Ronaldo's neat through ball, before the Brazilian netted his second with a brilliant individual effort after ghosting past three lethargic Albacete challenges.
Atletico Madrid came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw with Real Mallorca.
Venezuelan Juan Arango opened the scoring for the home side when he struck on 26 minutes.
Madrid left it late to level and it was substitute Gonzalo Colsa who pounced with seven minutes left.
The point means that Mallorca remain bottom, while Atletico climb into eighth.
Click below for match summaries:
Mallorca 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Real Betis 2-1 Barcelona
Real Madrid 6-1 Albacete
Click here for La Liga table