Mourinho record as Real Madrid survive Mestalla scare

    Cristiano Ronaldo, center, scored the decisive third goal for Real Madrid at the Mestalla on Saturday.

    Story highlights

    • Real Madrid remain three points clear in Spain with 3-2 win at Valencia
    • Jose Mourinho marks his 50th La Liga match as coach of capital club
    • Barcelona bounce back from draw with Bilbao by beating Zaragoza 4-0
    • Villarreal move up to mid-table with a 1-0 win at home to Real Betis
    Real Madrid's hopes of winning a first Spanish title since 2008 survived a stern test on Saturday, as Jose Mourinho marked his 50th La Liga match as coach with a tense 3-2 victory at third-placed Valencia.
    It was Real's eighth successive league victory and 11 in all competitions, beating Mourinho's previous best run with Porto in the 2002-03 season.
    The visitors held off a late onslaught from Valencia, who came back from 2-0 and 3-1 down, then hit the bar in the fourth minute of time added on and had a claim for a last-gasp penalty turned down.
    Three-time defending champions Barcelona had earlier bounced back from the pre-international break draw with Athletic Bilbao to beat Zaragoza 4-0 and join Real on 28 points.
    Last season's fixture at the Mestalla ended in a 6-3 win for Mourinho's men, but this time they faced a Valencia side seeking a fifth successive league victory.
    It looked like being a comfortable win when Karim Benzema finished off Xabi Alonso's clever quick free-kick in the 20th minute and defender Sergio Ramos doubled the lead with 18 minutes left with a header from Mesut Ozil's left-wing corner.
    But striker Roberto Soldado smashed in a superb low effort three minutes later against his former club after goalkeeper Iker Casillas blocked Pablo's shot, ending real's run of four clean sheets on the road.
    Cristiano Ronaldo made it 3-1 in the 79th minute after a misjudgement by home keeper Diego Alves, giving him six goals in his last three games for the club plus the double he scored in Portugal's Euro 2012 playoff win over Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday.
    Soldado replied four minutes later with a prodded volley from Pablo's cross for his eighth league goal this season, and had the ball in the net again at the end of regulation time but was clearly offside.
    Valencia continued to seek an equalizer and hit the bar from a corner, and Soldado's shot was blocked by a prone Ramos on the ground -- but Valencia's claims for handball were in vain.
    Barcelona will end the weekend in second place, four points clear of Valencia, after dominating against Zaragoza.
    Defender Gerard Pique headed in Xavi's 18th-minute free-kick, and star forward Lionel Messi followed up his midweek goal for Argentina with his 15th La Liga strike this season just before halftime, meaning he is one clear of Ronaldo after 12 rounds.
    Carles Puyol scrambled in a rare goal eight minutes after the break, and substitute striker David Villa headed in the fourth with 15 to play.
    In Saturday's opening match, Villarreal moved up to mid-table with a 1-0 win at home to Real Betis, climbing above the Seville club thanks to a 21st-minute goal from midfielder Borja Valero.
    Early-season pacesetters Levante can claim third place on goal difference with a point at Atletico Madrid on Sunday.