La Liga round-up
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Real Madrid, who dropped David Beckham, lost ground on Barca after a draw with Betis.
Real Madrid, who dropped David Beckham and Ronaldo from their starting line-up, lost ground on Barcelona as they were held to a disappointing goalless draw by Real Betis.
A disjointed Real were jeered off by their fans at the Santiago Bernabeu and appear now to have all but surrendered any hope of catching their arch rivals from Catalunya.
Having created virtually nothing in the first half, the hosts improved slightly when Ronaldo came from the bench just before the hour mark to replace the ineffective Raul, but still failed to break down their opponents.
Betis keeper Pedro Contreras, a former Real player, was forced to produce a decent late save to thwart Cicinho, but, in truth, Los Merengues did not deserve the three points following a flaccid, lacklustre display and are facing up to a third consecutive season without a trophy.
Valencia were also unable to close on the leaders after slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Racing Santander.
The Che have now gone four league games without a win and were undone by a goal in each half at El Sardinero.
On-loan Barcelona star Damia Abella opened the scoring for Racing, coolly beating the advancing Santiago Canizares on 17 minutes and Ayoze doubled the lead midway through the second period with a sweet left-footed free kick.
The visitors gave themselves hope when the prolific David Sanchez nodded home a rebound, but it proved too little too late for Quique Flores' side who now trail Barca by a whopping 12 points.
Osasuna strengthened their grip on a UEFA Champions League place after an impressive 4-2 win at Espanyol.
Javier Aguirre's men actually fell behind at the Stadio Olimpico de Montjuic when Raul Tamudo guided home an Ivan de la Pena free kick on 20 minutes.
However, with confidence high after last week's triumph over Barca, Osasuna responded in style and had built a 3-1 lead by the interval.
David Lopez slotted the equaliser from Savo Milosevic's knock-down and, after Pierre Webo had powered in a header, the former Aston Villa striker gave his side breathing space by tapping home a Lopez cross from close range.
Espanyol were back in it when Luis Garcia thundered home a long-range effort midway through the second period, but Inaki Munoz produced an equally spectacular effort from range to kill the game with ten minutes remaining.
Mallorca's improved form under Gregorio Manzano continued as they took a valuable point from their trip to Sevilla.
Javier Saviola looked to have put the hosts on the way to victory when he finished well after combining with Jesus Navas, but Japanese striker Yoshito Okubo earned the Islanders a share of the spoils having capitalised on hesitancy in the home defence.
Malaga's hopes of avoiding the drop were dealt a body-blow when Zaragoza grabbed an injury-time winner in their match at La Rosaleda.
Basement boys Malaga looked to have secured a point, but Brazilian striker Ewerthon broke home hearts in the dying stages when he swept home Savio's cross to secure the spoils for the visitors.
Athletic Bilbao eased their relegation fears with a vital 1-0 at high-flying Celta Vigo courtesy of an early strike from Aritz Aduritz.
Strugglers Cadiz and Alaves shared the points after a goalless draw at Estadio Ramon de Carranza.
Cadiz 0-0 Alaves
Celta Vigo 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
Espanyol 2-4 Osasuna
Malaga 0-1 Real Zaragoza
Racing Santander 2-1 Valencia
Real Madrid 0-0 Real Betis
Sevilla 1-1 Mallorca