Sunday, November 26, 2006

Raul was the key of victory in Mestalla

Real Madrid is still steady in their chase of Barcelona. The "merengues" got a crucial 1-0 victory over Valencia at the Mestalla on Sunday.

Captain and striker Raul Gonzalez fired home in the second-half as Real moved to within three points of champions Barca after inflicting a first home defeat of the season on out-of-form Valencia.

It's important to mention that Valencia, who were beaten 3-0 by Sevilla last weekend, remain in eighth position, 11 points behind the leaders.

Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello was also without suspended midfielder Guti, while Cicinho, Ronaldo and David Beckham were all sidelined with injuries.

It was the home team that started brightest and Villa blasted wide from the edge of the penalty area in the sixth minute.

Despite that, Real Madrid came close to breaking the deadlock soon after when Raul headed over the crossbar after Robinho's cross.

Valencia front man Miguel Angulo also headed over the target after David Silva's corner, before the home side suffered a setback when the injured Villa had to be replaced by Vicente in the 16th minute.

Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy then came close to giving his side the lead when his powerful effort from inside the penalty area was saved by Valencia keeper Santiago Canizares.

And in the 24th minute Robinho blasted a strong shot at Canizares, before Silva's excellent long-range drive was tipped around the post by Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Valencia's Joaquin blasted a free-kick over the crossbar in the 28th minute, the final decent opportunity of a disappointing first half.

And seven minutes after the interval Real took the lead when Raul coolly fired home after Roberto Carlos' cross was pulled back across the centre of the penalty area.

The home squad continued to push forward in search of an equaliser and substitute Vicente should have done better when his long-range effort flew over the crossbar.

Real substitute Ruben De la Red then had a shot blocked by defender Luis Miguel, before Angulo missed another glorious option to secure a point for Valencia in the dying stages when he fired over from close range with the goal at his mercy.

It's important to mention that Valencia now travel to Recreativo Huelva, while Real, who have won three successive league matches, will face Athletic Bilbao next weekend.