Juande Ramos picks up his first win at Real Madrid; Maxi fantastic as Atletico down Espanyol

Real Madrid 1 – Valencia 0 (La Liga, December 20, 2008) (Longer highlights here.) Gonzalo Higuain gave Juande Ramos a perfect start against Valencia, cracking home a fine left-foot strike after great work from Robben inside 3 minutes. Real pressed for the second, Robben shot on target before Van der Vaart’s curling effort strike the post (both chances here). (First half highlights here.) Valencia gave the hosts a scare when Iker Casillas had to produce a wonder save to push Ruben Baraja’s header onto the post. At the other end, Real should have doubled their lead but Higuain hit the bar when clean through.

Espanyol 2 – Atletico Madrid 3 (La Liga, December 20, 2008) Maxi scored after seven minutes, and that is the way things stayed until Nicolas Pareja set up Sergio Sanchez, and the right-back made it 1-all with a fierce drive. Nine minutes from time Sergio Aguero restored Atletico’s lead after the sluggish Espanyol defence had given him three bites at the cherry. Maxi Rodriguez then added his second in stoppage time with a classy solo goal. Valdo pulled a goal back for the hosts three minutes later, but it came too late to save them from another defeat.