Atlético gives chase to the champion

10th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

Real still comfortable after win in Bilbao; Villarreal loses at home to Betis.

10 December 2007

MADRID - Atlético de Madrid yesterday held on to a first-half lead from a Diego Forlán strike to beat Getafe 1-0 and move into second place pending Barcelona's result in Sunday's late Liga game.

Earlier in the day, three goals in the space of seven minutes suggested  that Espanyol was on its way to victory and a possible third place. But Espanyol was confounded by a Zaragoza fightback which brought the score to 3-3 in a thrilling match.

Argentine striker Diego Milito took Zaragoza to an early lead, but the home team was then stunned by an onslaught of goals, first from Raúl Tamudo, a second from Valdo, and a third from Pablo Zabaleta, taking the score to 3-1 in just 15 minutes.

When Zaragoza's Peter Luccin was sent off, it looked like the game was up. But then two goals from the Brazilian Ricardo Oliveira in the last five minutes saw Espanyol reined back, in and the final score at 3-3.

Sunday's other matches saw Villarreal lose 1-0 at home to Real Betis, while Sevilla beat visitor Real Murcia 3-1.

Meanwhile, Saturday night saw reigning champion Real Madrid extend its Liga lead after beating Athletic Bilbao 0-1. Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy was the only scorer in the game, sending a right-footed shot flying into the back of the net in the 55th minute.

Despite having thrashed Valencia 3-0 last weekend, Athletic was no match for Bernd Schuster's Real. Although the northern team started strongly, with a header from Fernando Llorente going just over the bar, and midfielder David López sending a shot straight at goalkeeper Iker Casillas - all in the first few minutes - Real responded well, with the Bilbao keeper Daniel Aranzubia soon fending off shots from Raúl and Robinho, before an error by the Basque team saw Van Nistelrooy score with an angled shot from outside the area.

The evening didn't pass without incident though, with objects raining down onto Real's Casillas during the game. "The atmosphere at San Mamés is always very powerful and that area is always like that," he told the press afterwards. "It is a strange way to support your team."

Real's win left the side with 35 points from 15 matches, seven ahead of Barcelona, which at press time was still due to play Deportivo.

Valencia was unable to break its recent bad streak on Saturday, and failed to score against Osasuna, the game in Pamplona finishing at 0-0. Valencia has won just two of its last seven matches in La Liga, failing to even score in its last three. That leaves it in ninth position after the weekend, 16 points behind Real.

Despite the lack of goals, Valencia's coach Ronald Koeman said he was satisfied with his team's performance. "The best 25 minutes came in the second half. I was impressed by the team, it was focused - but we have to improve offensively to create more danger."

Levante 0-2 Recreativo; Almería 1-0 Valladolid; Racing 3-1 Mallorca.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL. 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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