MADRID, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid moved to within three points of the top of the BBVA Primera Liga table as the Spanish football season reached its midway point.
Real Madrid's 1-0 win away to Espanyol coupled with the 0-0 draw between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona caused the traffic jam at the top of the table as Carlo Ancelotti's side took advantage of the stalemate between the two sides above them.
It was far from a vintage performance from Madrid, who have only won by more by one goal on one occasion this season, but against an Espanyol lacking power in attack Pepe's 55th minute header was enough to give them all three points in Espanyol's Cornella-El Prat Stadium.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed chances to extend Madrid's lead on a day which Kiko Casilla enjoyed a fine night in the Espenaol goal.
Atletico Madrid and Barca had played out a tense and tactical stalemate in the Vicente Calderon Stadium on Saturday game in a match which failed to live up to expectations in terms of goals, but which was tactically fascinating.
Leo Messi came into the game as a second half substitute and almost won the game with a left foot shot, but on the balance of play a draw was a fair result.
Athletic Club Bilbao remain fourth following a 6-1 win over Almeria, the first time the Basque side have scored six goals at home in 17 years. Mikel Rico, Ander Herrera, Aymeric Laporte, Aritz Aduriz and two goals from Ibai Gomez completed the rout.
Sevilla continued their good recent form as a late goal earned them a 1-1 draw away to Elche. Elche had taken the lead though Cristian Herrera, but Daniel Carrico's 89th minute goal assured a share of the points.
Celta striker Charles netted twice as his side came from a goal down to defeat Valencia 2-1. The forward who had missed chances on Monday against Real Madrid scored two goals to overturn Dani Parejo's first half header.
Sunday saw Rayo Vallecano continue their incredible run of results away to Getafe with an Alberto Bueno goal giving them their third successive win against their south Madrid neighbors.
Meanwhile Betis's season went from bad to worse as they lost 2-1 at home to fellow strugglers Osasuna.
Ruben Torres opened the scoring for Osasuna after just two minutes and Betis were reduced to 10 men before halftime when Nono was shown his second yellow card of the game.
Jordi Figueras made things worse for Betis when he netted an own goal after 57 minutes and although Osasuna saw goalkeeper Andres Fernandez sent off for committing a penalty, Ruben Garca missed his spot kick and Jordi Molina's 80th minute strike was too little too late.
David Barral's goal decided a tight and tense match between Levante and Malaga and the final game of the round is between Villarreal and Real Sociedad on Monday.