Real Madrid kept their place at the top of La Primera Liga with a 1-0 victory at Villarreal.

The game looked to be heading for a stalemate until Ivan Helguera secured a vital win in the 89th minute. Helguera’s goal was made allthe more significant as Real Sociedad and Deportivo La Coruna both won.

Sociedad recorded a 2-1 win at Racing Santander, who opened the scoring through Yossi Benayoun only for Sociedad to hit back through Nihat Kahveci and Valery Karpin.

Meanwhile, Deportivo had a comfortable 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano, with in-form Dutchman Roy Makaay scoring the first goal before Noureddine Naybet netted the winner 5 minutes from time.

Valencia warmed up for their Champions League clash with Arsenal in midweek with a disappointing 1-0 defeat by Athletic Bilbao. The Basque side stunned 4th placed Valencia with a Joseba Etxebarria goal, after Valencia’s Fabio Aurelio had missed a penalty.

Valencia coach Rafa Benitez was fuming at his sides performance saying: “I’m angry for the manner in which we have ended up losing. When we had everything in our favour, including the penalty, they scored and from there everything changed.”

Fifth-placed Celta Vigo kept the pressure on the top teams with a 1-0 win away to Atletico Madrid, thanks to a late Eduardo Berizzo goal.

Near the bottom of the table, Alaves managed to hold Barcelona to their 4th consecutive draw with a 0-0 scoreline. Patrick Kluivert came close for Barcelona, hitting the crossbar with a delicate chip.

Bottom placed Recreativo Huelva managed to scrape a 1-1 draw with Real Betis. An equalizer by Xisco cancelled out Capi’s opener for Betis.

Spanish international Raul Tamudo scored twice to beat Malaga in an action packed game at the Olympic Stadium. Malaga had Pedro Contreras and Romero both sent off in a game settled by an injury time penalty. Manu Sanchez had earlier equalized for Malaga.

In the only other game in La Liga, Osasuna and Mallorca played out a 0-0 scoreline in El Sadar.