Espanyol 0-2 Real Madrid & Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Sevilla

Espanyol 0-2 Real Madrid

A stunning free kick from Guti and a clinical finish from Raul gave Real Madrid a critical win at Espanyol to keep up the pressure on Barcelona.

Real close the gap on Barca to just four points, with La Liga's top club facing a tough Sunday match against Atletico Madrid.

Espanyol made it far from easy for Real, however, playing superb football that defied their lowly league position and made them look the team most likely to break the deadlock during a goalless first hour.

Right from the whistle it was the home side that looked the more accomplished, with Fernandez Luis Garcia whipping in a brilliant free kick after just six minutes that drew a superb reaction save from Iker Casillas.

The home side continued to press, and came incredibly close to scoring as a penalty box scramble offered chances to both Daniel Alonso and Ivan de la Pena. Neither could find the target, however, with Alonso's fresh-air swish at the ball being the most agonising miss.

The second half saw an increasingly desperate Real side trying to force positions, but the Espanyol defence seemed simply too solid to let anything through.

Predictably, perhaps, it was from a dead-ball that the visitors made the breakthrough. A free-kick won 30 yards out and in the centre of the pitch always looked to be in a dangerous position, and Guti's stunning strike was genuinely unstoppable: indeed, Carlos Kameni got a hand to it but still could not prevent it ricocheting in off both the cross-bar and post.

Just five minutes later Real doubled their lead, Marcelo's jinking run to the left corner of the box culminating in a lovely pass straight in to the path of the charging Raul, who buried his finish low and hard in to the bottom left-hand corner.

It was a tough blow for Espanyol, who played far better than a 2-0 scoreline suggested; but once they had ceded the advantage to Real the visitors squeezed the life out of their hosts and played out a solid - and potentially crucial - victory.

Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Sevilla

Frederic Kanoute scored a stylish double to help third-placed Sevilla come from behind and earn a 2-1 away victory over Athletic Bilbao in La Liga.

Sevilla enjoyed more possession in the opening stages but it was the home side who struck on 26 minutes: the visitors' keeper Andres Palop got a hand to Igor Gabilondo's low shot, but the ball squirmed over the line into the bottom corner.

The Andalusian side continued to push their hosts, however, and Kanoute produced a sublime piece of control to create the equaliser five minutes before the break. The Mali international took the ball down in the penalty area, shrugged off a defender and slammed the ball past Armando.

He twice went close before grabbing the winner just before the hour when he picked up a Ndri Romaric pass and drove the ball into the bottom left corner.

Sevilla return to the San Mames on Wednesday to play Athletic in their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg, where they will defend a 2-1 first leg advantage.