Goals from Raul and Ruud van Nistelrooy earned Real Madrid a 2-0
win over arch-rivals Barcelona at the Bernabeu on Sunday, ending
the unbeaten league record of the Spanish champions.
Real captain Raul dealt the first blow after three minutes when
he rose to head in at the far post after right back Sergio Ramos
had swept the ball in from the right.
Van Nistelrooy hit the second goal after another speedy break
six minutes into the second half, poking the ball past keeper
Victor Valdes after a fine cross from live-wire Robinho.
"This team is now playing like a team, it has both spirit and
quality," Real coach Fabio Capello told reporters.
"These are three important points in that they bring us closer
to Barca and provide an important psychological boost."
Barcelona are still top but are now level on 16 points with
Valencia, who beat Osasuna 1-0 after David Villa notched his fifth
goal of the season following a knockdown by fellow striker Fernando
Sevilla are a point behind in third after a double strike from
Frederic Kanoute clinched a 2-1 home win over promoted Gimnastic
Tarragona. The Mali striker is joint top scorer in the league with
Real's win lifted them to fourth, level on points with Deportivo
Coruna and two behind Barca.
Barcelona inflicted a humiliating 3-0 defeat on Real when the
sides met at the Bernabeu last season, Ronaldinho being given a
standing ovation by the home fans after a sublime double.
This time the Bernabeu faithful were given something to cheer
early on when Raul opened the scoring.
Real hunted Barca down in midfield every time they had the ball
and, with Robinho to the fore, looked to break quickly.
Raul almost doubled the lead in the 15th minute when he fired a
shot against the bar from the edge of the area after Robinho had
bamboozled his way past Gianluca Zambrotta with his trademark
Barca found their rhythm as the half wore on and spurned two
gilt-edged chances to level.
Eidur Gudjohnsen fired wide from point-blank range after Lionel
Messi had carved his way into the area and the Argentine teenager
scooped the ball over the bar soon after.
Real floored Barca again at the start of the second half.
This time van Nistelrooy provided the finishing touch when he
poked the ball past the advancing Valdes after Robinho broke clear
down the right.
Van Nistelrooy almost added a third when he hit the bar with a
dipping shot four minutes later. He also fired straight at Valdes
after being put clear.
(Reuters October 23, 2006)