Madrid: Raul Gonzalez scored in the 52nd minute to give Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Valencia and move the team three points off the lead in the Spanish League.
Raul’s third goal of the season came from Roberto Carlos’ low cross following a swift break down the left wing which also involved Jose Antonio Reyes.
Valencia’s defeat on Sunday deepened the slump in their league form. The 2002 and ’04 champions are in eighth place after gaining just two points from a possible 15.
Real’s victory at Mestalla Stadium was their third straight and was achieved without the injured Ronaldo, David Beckham, Jose Maria ‘Guti’ Gutierrez and Ivan Helguera.
The 29-time champions stayed in third place because Sevilla won 3-1 at Athletic Bilbao to keep hold of second place.
Two goals by Luis Fabiano and one by Jose Luis Marti extended Sevilla’s unbeaten run to six games — five wins and a draw.
Also, Diego Milito scored his ninth goal of the season to help 10-man Zaragoza earn a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo.
In other matches, Racing Santander beat Recreativo Huelva 4-3; Getafe and Levante played out a goalless draw; Real Betis and Espanyol ended 1-1; Gimnastic Tarragona went down to Mallorca 2-3 and Osasuna whipped Deportivo La Coruna 4-1.
In Rome, Inter Milan brushed aside title-rivals Palermo 2-1 in Sicily as Roma skipper Francesco Totti hit back at his critics with goals in either half which lifted his side to a 4-2 win at Sampdoria.
Roma underlined their Serie A credentials with their fifth straight victory on Sunday. The win moves the side from the capital to second in the Serie A ahead of Palermo who drop to third.