Real Madrid reached the halfway point of the Spanish Liga Santander season as league leaders after a belabored and slightly lucky 2-1 win at home to Malaga on match day 16.

Two first half goals from Sergio Ramos, the second of which came from an offside position, were enough to give Madrid three points after consecutive defeats, and although Juampi gave Malaga hope in the second half, Madrid were able to hold on with few problems.

The bad news for Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is that he lost two players through injury, with Marcelo suffering a hamstring injury and Luka Modric also forced off with physical problems.

Sevilla were in danger of dropping off the pace when Vicente Iborra put through his own net to put them 2-1 down to Osasuna with just 27 minutes remaining. However, the Sevilla midfielder’s second goal of the game drew his side level a minute later and late goals from Fran Vazquez (much protested by the home side) and Pablo Sarabia gave them a 4-3 win to keep them a point behind Real Madrid.

Barcelona also remain in touch after a 4-0 win away to Eibar, which came at a price after Sergio Busquets went off with what looked like a serious ankle injury.

Busquets’ substitute Denis Suarez opened the scoring with a 25 yard free kick, before second half goals from Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar trio assured the win.

Although Barca and Sevilla also kept in touch, Atletico Madrid dropped two points in the title race, despite taking part in the game of the week as they drew 2-2 away to Athletic Club Bilbao.

Koke put Atletico ahead with a freak goal after 3 minutes and looked comfortable until Inigo Lekue equalized three minutes before halftime and Oscar de Marcos put Athletic ahead 10 minutes after the break.

Antoine Griezmann assured a share of the points with a 25-yard screamer 11 minutes from time.

Real Sociedad remain fifth after Juanmi’s 72nd minute goal gave them a 1-0 win at home to Celta Vigo, who rested key players ahead of next week’s Cup game at home to Real Madrid.

Valencia’s recovery continues under Voro Gonzalez and they took a major stride away from the relegation zone thanks to a 2-0 win away to high-flying neighbors, Villarreal.

First-half goals from Carlos Soler and Santi Mina were enough to assure the win and give Valencia two wins in as many matches.

Espanyol claimed their first victory of 2017 at the expense of Granada, who end the first half of the campaign with just 10 points.

Jose Antonio Reyes, Pablo Piatti and debutant Marc Navarro scored Espanyol’s goals and although Pereira briefly gave Granada hope, a power-puff defense condemned them to defeat.

Alaves and Leganes shared the points after Leganes twice came from behind in a 2-2 draw which edges both sides closer to safety.

Victor Laguardia and Edgar Mendez twice put Alaves ahead, but they were pegged back by Miguel Angel Guerrero and Pablo Insua, while Rubi’s debut as coach at Sporting Gijon ended in a 0-0 away to Betis. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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