Real Madrid 1 - 0 Villarreal

A brilliant solo goal from Dutch winger Arjen Robben helped Real Madrid close the gap on runaway leaders Barcelona to 12 points as the champions defeated Villarreal 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real coach Juande Ramos handed debuts to French midfielder Lassana Diarra and Dutch international striker Klass-Jan Huntelaar (40 million euros worth of talent) but it was Robben that proved the difference. The former Chelsea man jinked his way past several opponents, leaving Spain star Marcos Senna sprawling on the ground before unleashing an unstoppable 31st minute winner.

Ramos had no hesitation in giving league debuts to Diarra, who he signed for 20 million euros from Portsmouth during the transfer window, and Huntelaar who was a 20 million euro purchase by former manager Bernd Schuster. The Christmas break also allowed Real to recover injured players and they welcomed back Pepe and Gabriel Heinze to strengthen the back four.

Real hit the woodwork on 11 minutes when Robben's deflected shot ricocheted off the top of the crossbar for a corner. The Dutchman was Real's standout player and he scored a terrific goal just after the hour. Cutting in from the right flank Robben faked to shoot - deceiving Spanish international Senna who threw himself to the ground to block, before firing a fierce drive into the top corner with his left foot.

Real Madrid 1 - 0 Villarreal

Sevilla 1 - 1 Osasuna

Also on Sunday, Seville struggled to break down struggling Osasuna in the first half but Jesús Navas broke the deadlock five minutes after the break. Walter Pandiani struck in added time, though, to give the visitors a point.

Sevilla are now level on 32 points with Real Madrid in third place. fifa

Full results;
January 3
Barcelona 3 - 1 Mallorca
Valencia 3 - 1 Atletico Madrid

January 4
Almeria 1 - 0 Real Betis
Athletic Bilbao 1 - 1 Espanyol
Malaga 1 - 0 Sporting Gijon
Real Madrid 1 - 0 Villarreal
Recreativo Huelva 3 - 1 Numancia
Valladolid 0 - 1 Racing Santander
Sevilla 1 - 1 Osasuna
Getafe 1 - 2 Deportivo La Coruna


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