Real moves closer to league title
Real Madrid beat Racing Santander 2-0 away from home while Barca once again slips up.21 April 2008
MADRID - Real Madrid virtually guaranteed itself the 2007-08 Liga title Sunday, after beating Racing Santander 2-0 away from home. An early goal by Raúl put the visitors in front and Gonzalo Higuaín sealed victory in extra time. That result leaves Real 10 points ahead of its nearest rival with five games to play.
But there was arguably more pulse-racing action at the other end of the table as the relegation battle hots up.
Following up on its away win over Getafe last week, Zaragoza breathed further life into its hopes of remaining in the first division with a resounding 3-0 win over Recreativo Huelva at La Romareda on Saturday.
The victory hauls Zaragoza out of the relegation zone, and is disastrous for Recreativo, which is now in third-last place. Zaragoza got off to a flying start, scoring in the first two minutes, then compounding Recreativo's woes in the 20th minute, and sealing the win in the 77th minute.
Only a few months ago Zaragoza had been touted as a possible challenger for a European place.
Injuries and calamitous form, however, have put paid to that dream for this season and staying up is now the goal.
Another team failing to deliver on its potential is Sevilla. The Andalusians failed to climb into the Champions League places on Saturday after losing at home to upstart neighbour Almería 4-1.
The victory puts Almería just three points behind Sevilla and pushing for a UEFA cup berth. An own-goal by Sevilla's Daniel Alves put Almería on track in the 24th minute.
Two goals early in the second half left Sevilla looking hapless, compounded by Adriano's sending off and Frédéric Kanouté's missed penalty. Almería took control in the second half, scoring in the 62nd minute. Just three minutes later, after Sevilla's Adriano was sent off, Almería completed the drubbing and Kanouté's consolation goal 18 minutes from full time was little comfort.
Barcelona failed to light up a disappointing goalless draw in the derby against Espanyol on Saturday night. Frank Rijkaard's side put in a reasonable performance, but it was clear that Espanyol was going to make a fight of it, and the game was evenly matched.
Barcelona had no shortage of opportunities, but failed to make it count in front of goal, which has been a constant problem for the Catalans throughout this season. To judge by this performance,
Rijkaard and his charges will have plenty to worry about ahead of this week's Champions League semi-final visit by Manchester United.
Villarreal may have all but given up its dream of stealing the Liga title, but after its 2-0 home win over Valladolid on Sunday, it leapfrogged Barça into second place.
In Saturday's other action, Betis, playing away, beat Atlético 3-1, while on Sunday Murcia lost 4-1 at home to Mallorca, Osasuna lost 1-0 at home to Deportivo A Coruña and bottom-placed Levante beat visitor Getafe 3-1.
[El Pais / N. L. / Expatica]