Real derby win strengthens 'Liga' hold

21st January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Atlético fails to make impression on Madrid rivals, losing 2-0 to the table toppers.

21 January 2008

MADRID - Real Madrid consolidated its hold on La Liga with a 2-0 win over Atlético Madrid yesterday, its seventh consecutive victory. Raúl González, who was rested for Wednesday's 1-0 loss in the second leg King's Cup against Mallorca, returned to captain the side, getting the visitors off to a flying start in the ever-popular derby after 44 seconds with a left-footed shot from a Robinho pass.

Four minutes from half time, Ruud van Nistelroy connected with a Wesley Sneijder corner to score his 12th goal this season, putting Real Madrid ahead 2-0.

After 20 games, the defending champions have 50 points - a feat that hasn't been bettered in the Liga since 1969.

Atlético, which has been enjoying its best season for 12 years, put up a full-strength line up, with Thiago Motta and Raúl Garcia teamed in the middle, and Maxi Rodríguez and Simao Sabrosa on the flanks supporting strikers Argentine Sergio Agüero and Uruguayan Diego Forlan. But Atlético's Latin American duo were unable to make much of an impression on their guests.

Barcelona faced sixth-placed Racing Santander on Sunday but was without injured Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o, away on African Nations Cup duty for Cameroon. The game was still underway at time of going to press.

On Wednesday, Santander progressed to its first Copa del Rey quarterfinals for a decade by beating Zaragoza 4-2.

Inspired performances from Robert Pires, Joan Capdevila, and Nihat Kahveci gave Villarreal a convincing 3-0 victory over local rivals Valencia on Saturday. Villarreal is now in third place, with 38 points from 20 games, while Valencia have now gone eight league games without a win.

Getafe's 3-2 win over beleaguered Sevilla on Saturday took the Madrid side four points clear of the relegation zone.

Sevilla, the reigning UEFA Cup holders, are still in the Champions League, but poor performances at home have left it in the middle of the table with only one away win this season. The Andalusian side battled hard throughout the match, and took the lead with a Luis Fabiano goal in the 16th minute.

But Getafe midfielder Francisco Casquero levelled after 32 minutes, and Juan Ángel Albin put the hosts in front with a header just before the hour. Sevilla looked safe when Serbian defender Ivica Dragutinovic scored with a header one minute from the whistle. But with just seconds to spare, Getafe's Romanian international defender Cosmin Contra scored his first goal in six seasons.

Valladolid made Spanish soccer history on Sunday when Joseba Llorente scored in less than seven seconds against Espanyol. The side kept up its run of wins beating the uninspired Catalans 2-1, with Llorente putting the second goal away.

Real Zaragoza's 3-1 win over Real Murcia brought an end to its nine-match series of non-wins, pulling it back from the relegation zone.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / NICK LYNE 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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