no room for real to slip

MADRID - Real Madrid face a stern test of their title hopes when they travel to Mallorca, where a slip-up could put leaders Barcelona on the brink of winning the Spanish league for the second year running.

MADRID - Real Madrid face a stern test of their title hopes when they travel to Mallorca, where a slip-up could put leaders Barcelona on the brink of winning the Spanish league for the second year running.

Barcelona, who lead Madrid by one point with three games to play, face 18th-placed Tenerife at the Nou Camp today, a day before Madrid meet fourth-placed Mallorca at Ono Estadi Stadium.

Real cannot afford to drop points after Barcelona shook off the disappointment of their Champions League exit with a resounding 4-1 win over Villarreal on Saturday.

Madrid rallied twice before finally seeing off Osasuna 3-2 on Sunday and have not looked impressive in their past two matches - last-gasp wins over bottom-half teams.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner for Real in the 89th minute on Sunday to close the gap on Barca to one point.

"It was our worst defensive performance of the season and we suffered a lot," Real coach Manuel Pellegrini said after the match.

"You cannot deny (Ronaldo's) importance and he makes a difference without doubt," the Chilean added. "Luckily he is playing for us right now."

Titleholders Barca can go four points clear with a win at home to third-from-bottom Tenerife today.

Victory will lift Pep Guardiola's side to 93 points with two matches left, surpassing Real's record tally of 92 under Fabio Capello in the 1996-97 season.

Promoted Tenerife have won three of their past four games. - Sapa-AP and Reuters

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