Real beat Mallorca 4-3 to extend lead in Liga

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MADRID, Nov 11 (Reuters) Real Madrid extended their lead at the top of the Primera Liga with an unconvincing 4-3 home victory over Real Mallorca at the Bernabeu today.

Brazilian forward Robinho was in sparkling form and twice put Real ahead in the first half, only for Fernando Varela's equalisers to keep Mallorca in the game.

Daniel Guiza put the visitors in front for the first time after the break but further goals from Raul and Ruud van Nistelrooy maintained Real's 100 percent home record.

Real went four points clear at the top on 28, after arch-rivals Barcelona slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Getafe yesterday.

Barca, Villarreal and Valencia, who hammered promoted Real Murcia 3-0 at home yestrday, are second, third and fourth respectively on 24 points.

Villarreal host Sevilla at the Madrigal in the late game today.

Earlier, Espanyol beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at home thanks to a last-minute own goal from Aitor Ocio.

Last season's UEFA Cup finalists moved up to fifth place on 22 points, one ahead of Atletico Madrid who were held to a goalless draw at promoted Almeria.

Racing Santander climbed to seventh on 20 points with a 1-0 away win at Deportivo Coruna, ahead of Real Zaragoza on 17 who lost 2-1 at Real Betis.

Betis's Argentine striker Mariano Pavone scored two goals in the last 10 minutes to complete a dramatic comeback and ease the pressure on underfire coach Hector Cuper.

ROBINHO HEADER Mallorca were unlucky not to have a penalty early on against Real when Gabriel Heinze handled the ball at a corner.

Real took the lead in the 12th minute after Robinho combined well with fullback Marcelo and continued into the area to head in the Brazilian's floated cross.

The lead only lasted two minutes before Marcelo failed to cut out Ariel Ibagaza's diagonal ball allowing Varela to round Iker Casillas and level.

Real were back in front in the 17th minute when Wesley Sneijder's pass deflected through to Robinho in an offside position, and the Brazilian scored in the corner.

Mallorca defender Jose Carlos Nunes volleyed against the crossbar, but it was Varela who equalised again with a stunning 25-metre drive in 37th minute.

The visitors took the lead in the 58th when Real's Mahamadou Diarra diverted the ball into the path of Guiza, to curl a shot past Casillas, but Real were level again five minutes later.

Robinho beat the fullback down the left and crossed low for Raul to tap in from close range. Raul set up Van Nistelrooy to break through the middle and score the winner in the 73rd minute.

Reuters SBA VP0315

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