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Real Madrid avoids Zaragoza scare to extend lead atop La Liga

Real Madrid surrendered an early lead but place Real Zaragoza as 1 win at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

With Villarreal holding Barcelona to a scoreless draw Saturday, Real Madrid's fifth-straight league win sees its lead atop the Spanish top flight extend to seven points.

Angel Lafita put Zaragoza in front after 11 minutes, but Madrid responded through Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Mesut Ozil to claim a vital home victory.

The Bernabeu faithful were left stunned early on when Lafita redirected a square pass into the back of the net to give Zaragoza the lead.

Madrid applied pressure throughout the rest of the first half, but the equalizer did not come until the 32nd minute when Kaka latched onto a through ball before slotting a curling shot just inside the far post.

Ronaldo grabbed his league-leading 24th goal of the season just four minutes into the second half, narrowly beating the offside trap to stuff a square pass from Ozil into the back of the net.

Ozil then wrapped up the scoring seven minutes later, threading the needle on the left side of the box with a powerful shot to the near post.

Real Madrid improves to 52 points on the year while Real Zaragoza remains bottom with just 12 points.

Villarreal 0, Barcelona 0

Villarreal, Spain - Villarreal held the reigning European champions scoreless at El Madrigal on Saturday as it played to a 0-0 draw with Barcelona.

The Catalans now sit seven points adrift of La Liga leaders Real Madrid after its 3-1 win over Real Zaragoza earlier on Saturday. Barcelona's sixth draw of the season brings its point total to 45 through 20 games.

Villarreal improves to 20 points on the year, but remains in a tight battle against relegation as it sits just one point above the drop zone.

Athletic Bilbao 3, Rayo Vallecano 2

Madrid, Spain - Fernando Llorente scored a hat trick to help Athletic Bilbao claim a 3-2 win over Rayo Vallecano at the Teresa Rivero on Saturday.

Michu put Rayo Vallecano in front in the 10th minute, but Llorente quickly overturned the deficit with goals in the 17th and 23rd minutes. Alejandro Arribas equalized for the home side in the 27th minute to ensure the two teams went into halftime deadlocked on two goals apiece, but Llorente grabbed the game-winner in the 68th minute to give Bilbao all three points.

Bilbao improves to 29 points on the year, while Rayo Vallecano suffers its second-straight defeat to remain on 22 points.

Espanyol 1, Mallorca 0

Barcelona, Spain - Vladimir Weiss scored in the 19th minute to help Espanyol defeat 10-man Mallorca, 1-0, at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat on Saturday.

Mallorca goalkeeper Dudu Aouate was sent off in the 46th minute for bringing down Rui Fonte just outside the area. Mallorca failed to rebound from the sending off, as the match ended in favor of Espanyol with Weiss's strike holding up as the winner.

Espanyol, unbeaten in its last six league games, sits fifth in the table on 31 points, while Mallorca sits three points above the relegation zone with 22 points.