10 March 2008
MADRID – Real Madrid badly needed a win in La Liga over Espanyol on Saturday night in front of home fans, who saw the Spanish champion exit ignominiously from Europe’s Champions League last week against Roma. The 2-1 score line against Espanyol is a reflection of how unconvincing Real was, but the three points constituted an extremely important step toward the only title Bernd Schuster’s team can now claim this season.
"It wasn’t a game for the gallery, but that was not the most important thing," the German coach said.
Real began the game in anxious mood, a ball-watching defence twice allowing Valdo to steal in at the far post at dead-ball situations. First, Valdo missed with his header, but the midfielder did not pardon Real a second time. Then, just before half time, Gonzalo Higuaín levelled the game, bundling home Marcelo’s cross.
After the break, Raúl completed the comeback, earning and scoring a penalty for his 200th league goal. Real was sure of at least maintaining its five-point lead over Barcelona, which was playing Villarreal at press time. Also on Saturday new Real Zaragoza coach Manolo Villanova made a perfect start with a 2-1 home win over Atlético de Madrid.
Other results: Sevilla 2-1 Levante; Osasuna 2-1 Almería; Murcia 0-3 Getafe; Mallorca 7-1 Recre; Athletic 2-0 Valladolid; Racing 3-0 Betis.
[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]