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Honors even in Madrid derby

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late equaliser as Real Madrid avoided a bruising derby defeat at La Liga title rivals Atletico Madrid with a 2-2 draw on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo's equaliser kept Real Madrid atop the table.

Hunter: Fascinating derby
Train: Ronaldo to the rescue
Sat: Levante run continues

Karim Benzema put Madrid ahead at the Vicente Calderon Stadium after three minutes when he was left alone to guide Angel Di Maria's cross into the box past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Ugly confrontations followed as both teams used gamesmanship to try and gain an edge, with Arda Turan booked for protesting in the 11th minute after Sergio Ramos tripped Diego Costa inside the area with no penalty awarded.

Instead of wilting, Atletico hit back with two goals to take the lead by half-time. Koke smashed a low shot beyond Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who then watched Gabi's swerving effort from 30 yards fly past him just before the break.

Despite being outplayed, Madrid's attack finally connected in the 82nd minute when Gareth Bale failed to control a cross but the ball fell to Ronaldo to extend Madrid's unbeaten run in all competitions to 28 games.

Madrid stayed three points ahead of Atletico, but Barcelona were able to cut their deficit to Madrid to one point after a 4-1 win against Almeria at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona led 2-0 by the 24th minute after Alexis Sanchez tapped a rebound into the empty goal before Lionel Messi curled an exquisite left-foot free kick around the defensive wall and into the top of the net for his 15th league strike of the season.

A rout looked on the cards until Angel Trujillo got free to head home a corner in the 27th minute, and the relegation-threatened club made Barcelona work for their points.

Carles Puyol, who had made a rare start, scored an even rarer goal after Messi's header came off the bar straight to him in the 83rd minute.

Xavi scored moments later as the Catalans bounced back from a 3-1 loss to Real Sociedad last weekend.

Madrid lead with 64 points, Barcelona have 63, and Atletico are on 61.

Ruben Castro's late goal gave bottom side Real Betis a 1-1 draw at 10-man Villarreal, who slipped six points from fourth and the final Champions League spot. Betis were left 11 points from safety. Bruno had given the Yellow Submarine the lead but Ikechukwu Uche's red card 10 minutes from time gave the visitors a way back into the game and Castro struck.

Real Sociedad fell seven points behind fourth-place Athletic Bilbao after Kevin Gameiro skipped through a pair of defenders and netted the rebound from his initial shot to lead Sevilla to a 1-0 victory.

Joaquin Larrivey scored as Rayo Vallecano climbed within three points of 17th-place Almeria -- and safety from the drop -- with a 1-0 win over Valencia, who played the last 15 minutes with 10 men after Antonio Barragan was dismissed.


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