Real Sociedad returned to the top of La Liga thanks toa 1-0 win over struggling Recreativo Huelva on Sunday, while their closest rivals Deportivo La Coruna were beaten 2-1 at home by reining champions Valencia.

Real Madrid also move above Deportivo after they bounced back from the disappointment of their midweek Champions League defeat to Juventus,by hammering Malaga 5-1.

A long-range effort from Nihat Kahveci after seven minutes earned Sociedad their win, although they were grateful to Dutch goalkeeper Sander Westerveld for keeping Recreativo at bay.

In the cappital Bernabeu, Raul and Fernando Morientes each scored twice as Real Madrid’s toitl ebid regained some momentum. Roberto Carlos scored for the home side, with Manu Sanchez replying for Malaga.

Twenty four hours earlier Brazilian defender Fabio Aurelio scored twice as Valencia CF defeated Deportivo La Coruna 2-1 to deliver a massive setback to the Galician side’s hopes of winning the Primera Division title.

Valencia remain in fourth spot after Celta Vigo were thrashed 5-0 by Villarreal.

Barcelona’s hopes of European football next season are fading following their 2-1 home defeat to UEFA Cup-chasing Mallorca. Alvaro Novo put the visitors in front before Patrick Kluivert equalised. However, two minutes from time, Carlos scored the winner for Mallorca.

At the other edn of the table, Osasuna moved out of the relegation zone, three points ahead of Recreativo and Alaves, following a 2-1 win against Real Betis. Francisco Punal scored the winner from thepenalty spot six minutes before half-time.

Bottom of the table Rayo Vallecano look doomed despite staging a remarkable comeback to earn a 3-3 draw against Sevilla – courtesy of two late goals. However, Rayo are eight points adrift of Osasuna and could be relegated next week.