Real Madrid went back on top of La Liga after an emphatic 6-2 away win over Sevilla saw Mourinho’s men leap-frog Barcelona to the top spot while the champions were winning the Club World Cup in Japan.
Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a hat-trick and went top of the leading goal scorers list ahead of Leo Messi, while Jose Callejon, Angel Di Maria and Hamit Altintop bagged the rest of Madrid’s goals; Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo got the consolation goals for Sevilla.
Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 9th minute when he got on the end of a perfect pass from Di Maria and slotted the ball home to put the visitors one goal up.
Sevilla should have been level just three minutes later when Manu struck from 6 yards out but Iker Casillas pulled off one of the saves of the season to deny the Spanish striker an almost certain goal.
Di Maria turned provider yet again in the 36th minute when his cross from the right was touched into the back of the net by Callejon as ‘keeper Javi Varas made a mess of the attempted save.
Ronaldo effectively ended the game in the 40th minute with a stunning strike from about 25 yards that gave Varas no chance and nearly burst the back of the net to make it 3-0 to the away side.
Despite Portuguese defender Pepe being sent off for Real Madrid for a second bookable offence in the first half, Mourinho’s side went 4-0 up in the 66th minute when Karim Benzema sent Di Maria on his way and the Argentine clinically finished his one-on-one with Varas.
Jesus Navas finally pulled one back in the 69th minute when his low driven shot beat Casillas but any chance Sevilla had of a comeback disappeared as Manu was shown a red for a trip on Alvaro Arbeola; the striker was unlucky to be shown a red for what looked like simply a bookable offence.
Ronaldo completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot when Benzema was taken down in the box by Federico Fazio and the former United man made no mistake from 12 yards to make it 5-2.
Hamit Altintop made it 6-1 in the 88th minute when he tapped in Xavi Alonso’s lay off before Negredo finished the scoring in stoppage time for slight consolation for the home side.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are now neck and neck on Betfair.com to win the title while Sevilla’s odds of coming third have lengthened; check out more La Liga markets at Betfair.com.
Valencia beat Malaga 2-0 at the Mestalla thanks to two goals from Roberto Soldado either side of half time; Unai Emery’s side will now finish for the winter break in 3rd position, four points behind Barcelona and four points ahead of Levante in 4th.
Levante have a four point cushion in 4th place despite losing 2-1 away to Granada after goals from Guilherme Siqueira from the penalty spot and Abel cancelled out Arouna Kone’s second half strike.
Atletico Madrid slumped to 10th after a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of a now resurgent Real Betis despite the away side having Alejandro Pozuelo sent off; the Spanish midfielder scored the opener for Betis before being given his marching orders and on-loan Man City striker Roque Santa Cruz ended the game with a goal in the 90th minute.
Villarreal continued their winless streak that has now stretched to four games, including three losses with another 2-1 defeat, this time at the hands of Osasuna away from home.
Marco Ruben opened the scoring for the away side but two late goals from Osasuna, through Ibrahima Balde and Sergio condemned Villarreal to another defeat and 17th position for the winter break; elsewhere on Sunday, Racing Santander and Real Sociedad played out a 0-0 draw in Santander to leave the home side second from bottom.
Athletic Bilbao beat bottom side Real Zaragoza at home despite Javi Martinez’s 20th minute red card; the home team went ahead after a 6th minute penalty scored by Markel Susaeta but the Zaragoza levelled it with a penalty just 15 minutes later converted by Leonardo Ponzio.
It took an 86th minute goal scored by Toquero Pinedo to win the game for Bilbao, who now finish 2011 in 9th position in the league.
Espanyol beat Sporting Gijon 2-1 after goals from Thievy Bifouma and Sergio Garcia either side of David Barral’s strike for Gijon won the game for the away side.