BARCELONA: Radamel Falcao scored again as Atletico Madrid beat last-place Osasuna 3-1 on Sunday for an eighth straight victory to keep pace with Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, bounced back from its Champions League loss at Borussia Dortmund by strolling to a 5-0 win at Mallorca, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain each collecting two goals to help their team stay within eight points of the co-leaders in fourth place.
Atletico has won 11 straight matches in all competitions, including in the Europa League, and extended its club-record unbeaten run to 22 games dating back to April.
Falcao scored his 10th league goal and 13th overall of the season to seal the victory at Vicente Calderon stadium. Only Barcelona’s Lionel Messi with 13 goals and Ronaldo with 11 have scored more in league play than the Colombia striker.
“This match confirms the strength of this team,” said coach Diego Simeone, who in less than a year in charge has completely turned Atletico around. “The team knows how to play. We mustn’t waver from this path.”
Atletico started well with only Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez frustrating its attack. But Fernandez was helpless to stop Miranda’s header when the Atletico defender met Emre Belozoglu's free kick and glanced it just inside the far upright in the 31st.
Raul Garcia, who played on loan for Osasuna last season, doubled Atletico's lead four minutes later by finding the net following a poor clearance of left back Filipe Luis' dangerous cross.
Down 2-0, Osasuna finally showed some fight. Moments after Kike Sola came close with a header, the striker laid the ball off for Roland Lamah to curl a superb left-footed shot around diving goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the 43rd minute.
Atletico pressed for a decisive goal after the restart, and Falcao delivered in the 73rd with sharp flick of his left foot to redirect Juanfran Torres' cross beyond Fernandez.
Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was missing midfielder Sami Khedira and defenders Alvaro Arbeloa, Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao to injury.
But any worries for Madrid's backline were ill-founded. The defending champions' area was rarely encroached upon and their attack soon put the result beyond doubt.
“The result is a little deceptive,” said Madrid defender Sergio Ramos. “It was a good game for our forwards, but the entire team deserves credit for the win.We have to continue winning points because we let some slip at the start of the season.''
Higuain grabbed Madrid’s opener eight minutes in when he took full advantage of Anderson Conceicao's horrible control of a harmless pass that left the Argentina striker in position to freely fire home.
Madrid’s pressure produced the second goal in the 22nd. Angel di Maria forced Andreu Fontas into losing the ball, and Higuain tapped on Di Maria’s pass to Ronaldo, who slotted the ball just inside the far post.
Madrid cruised through a sleepy second half until Higuain and Ronaldo each struck again. The Portugal forward set up Higuain in the 70th and three minutes later raced behind Mallorca's flat-footed defense to latch onto Luka Modric's pass and score his 18th goal in all competitions.
Substitute Jose Callejon added another goal in injury time as Madrid matched Barcelona's 5-0 win at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Obafemi Martins scored twice to help Levante to a 3-1 home win over Granada, lifting it level on points with fifth-place Real Betis.
Real Zaragoza beat Sevilla 2-1 to rise to the middle of the standings, while Getafe won 2-1 at struggling Athletic Bilbao.