LALIGA: Real Madrid win derby and only Sevilla and Betis can keep up the pace in top-four

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid competes for the ball with Antoine Griezmann of Atletico de Madrid during the La Liga Santander match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 12, 2021 in Madrid, Spain.

Real Madrid took another step towards this season's LaLiga title with a 2-0 win at home to Atletico Madrid in the city derby on Sunday night.

A first-half goal from Karim Benzema and an excellent strike from Marco Asensio gave Carlo Ancelotti's men a win against a rival, who were their equals for long parts of the game, but suffered from the loss of several first-choice defenders at key moments.

Thibaut Courtois was on hand to frustrate the chances that his former club did create, producing fine saves to deny Antonie Griezmann in the first half and Joao Tomas and Thomas Lemar after the break.

Benzema passed a fitness test to start the game and put Real ahead with an excellent volleyed goal following Vinicius Jr's pass in the 16th minute and Vinicius again turned provider to set up Asensio, who swept home his low cross 12 minutes into the second half.

Sevilla rode their luck to confirm they remain in the title race with a 1-0 away to Athletic Club Bilbao on Saturday to confirm their candidacy for this season's LaLiga title.

Sevilla had just two chances all game, but Thomas Delaney's magnificent 36th-minute shot was unstoppable, while Athletic hit the woodwork twice through Dani Garcia and Unai Vencedor and should have had a penalty after Jules Kounde's late challenge on Iker Muniain.

Betis also kept in the title race with a 4-0 thrashing of Real Sociedad, whose title hopes have run out of steam after a run of just one point from four games.

Left-back Alex Moreno netted twice, along with former Real Sociedad Juanmi and Nabil Fekir as the home side ran riot in the Benito Villamarin Stadium.

FC Barcelona's crisis continues as they were held to a 2-2 draw away to Osasuna just days after they were knocked out of the Champions League.

Nico Gonzalez put Barca in front in the 12th minute, but their lead lasted just two minutes before David Garcia headed Osasuna level.

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal during the La Liga Santander match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 12, 2021 in Madrid, Spain.

Es Abde put Barca back in front after a break, but Barca never looked secure and it was no surprise when Chimmy Avila fired home the equalizing goal for Osasuna in the 81st minute as the ball sat up nicely for him at the edge of the Barca area.

To make matters worse for Barca, Ousmane Dembele had to leave the pitch with a possible muscle problem and Barca are now 18 points behind Real Madrid.

Villarreal appear to be recovering from a poor start to their domestic campaign and followed their qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League on Thursday, with a 2-0 win at home to Rayo Vallecano.

Goals in the 32nd and 36th minute from Aissa Mandi and a Gerard Moreno penalty gave Unai Emery's side all three points against a rival that deserved more after peppering the Villarreal goal with shots.

Valencia continue to grind out results, even though coach Jose Bordalas was sidelined with Covid-19 for their 2-1 win at home to Elche.

Elche were close to taking a vital point in their battle against relegation when Lucas Boye's 75th-minute strike canceled out Goncalo Guedes' powerful 23rd-minute opener for the home side, but Cristiano Piccini's powerful shot from a corner sealed a home win four minutes from time.

Alaves striker Joselu became his club's all-time top scorer in LaLiga thanks to the late equalizer that earned his side a 1-1 draw 1-1 at home to Getafe.

Getafe led through Enes Unal's 20th-minute goal and looked comfortable until Joselu side-footed home from close range with just four minutes left.

Levante remain without a win this season after a topsy turvy game saw them twice surrender leads before going down 4-3 away to Espanyol.

Sergi Darder put Espanyol ahead in the sixth minute, but Jorge de Frutos and Son (who was later sent off) turned it around for the visitors.

Raul de Tomas equalized for Espanyol four minutes into the second half and although Jose Luis Morales put Levante back in front in the 57th-minute, two goals from Javi Puado gave Espanyol the win.

On Friday night Mallorca and Celta drew a game badly affected by strong winds 0-0.

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