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Sunday, January 13, 2008
La Liga: Ruud rules the roost for Real

MADRID, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Leaders Real Madrid needed two late goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy to beat basement club Levante 2-0 away in the Primera Liga on Sunday.

The Dutchman scored with a penalty and a long-range effort in the last 15 minutes to end a spirited display from the home side, and restore Real's seven-point lead at the midway point of the season.

Barcelona are second with 40 points following their 4-0 hammering of Real Murcia at the Nou Camp on Saturday.

Levante had one goal and one point to their name from their previous five outings but took the game to Real, causing the visitors problems at every set piece.

Julio Baptista and Raul had shots blocked on the line in a double chance at a corner in the 22nd minute, but offered little before the break.

Soon after the restart, Baptista failed to put away another scrappy chance as the ball bobbled on to a post and Robinho lashed a shot against the post in the 70th.

A handball in the 75th minute gave Van Nistelrooy the chance to break the deadlock from the penalty spot, and with two minutes to go he fired in a low shot from outside the area to seal the win.

Atletico Madrid climbed to third on 37 points after riding their luck to secure a 1-0 home win over Valencia.

Argentine Sergio Aguero scored the game's only goal following an error from German goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand in the first half, but Valencia twice hit the woodwork in a storming second half assault on the home goal.

Espanyol slipped to fourth on 36 after their 14-match unbeaten run ended in a 1-0 defeat in Almeria.

Turkish striker Nihat Kahveci scored twice to help Villarreal to a 4-3 comeback win at home against Deportivo Coruna that put them fifth on 35.

Struggling Depor took a 2-1 lead before Nihat poached an equaliser midway through the second half and then curled a superb shot in the top corner two minutes later.

Danish forward Jon Dahl Tomasson made it four from the penalty spot while Depor finished with 10 men and a late goal from Mexican Andres Guardado.

The goalkeeping performance of the day came from Portugal's Ricardo Pereira who denied Getafe a hatful of goals as Real Betis stole a 3-2 home win.

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