Monday, January 22, 2007

Real Madrid reach the top of the table as they beat Mallorca

This are good news for Real Madrid fans. Capello's team joined Sevilla and Barcelona at the top of Spain's La Liga after a superbly struck free kick from Jose Antonio Reyes allowed them to sneak a barely deserved 1-0 triumph at struggling Real Mallorca on Sunday.

All three squads are locked on 38 points at the head of the table, but with a game in hand FC Barcelona can pull clear at the halfway mark in the Spanish season and claim the symbolic title of winter champions if they win away at Real Betis on Wednesday.

In fact, Real Madrid, with Ronaldo, Antonio Cassano and David Beckham still on Fabio Capello's blacklist, played little in the way of fluent football and failed to make much headway in attack until a brilliant free kick from Reyes 12 minutes from time.

The old white club, who are third in La Liga, travelled to face Real Mallorca on Sunday with just one win from their last five encounters in all competitions.

Mallorca, who started the match in 15th place with 20 points from 18 games, began positively with a shoot on sight policy with Maxi Lopez driving his effort straight at Iker Casillas in the 8th minute.

What's more, Madrid, who went out of the Copa del Rey in midweek, created their first chance in the 19th minute when Mallorca goalkeeper Miguel Moya saved a shot from Gonzalo Higuain with his legs.

And from the resulting corner defender Sergio Ramos rose high and his looping header bounced back into play off the bar.

Mallorca's player Jonas Gutierrez forced Casillas into a save in the 43rd minute when he drifted in from the left and fired in a shot form a narrow angle.

Real Madrid Italian boss Fabio Capello, who has hardly been out of the headlines recently after omitting David Beckham, Ronaldo and Antonio Cassano, was left exasperated after Mahamadou Diarra somehow headed wide from close in.

We must notice that the game had been lacking in quality and the crowd had to wait until the 79th minute for the only piece of class exhibited on the night.

Spanish midfielder Jose Antonio Reyes, who is on loan from English club Arsenal, curled in a stunning free kick from 22.4 metres in what proved to be the match winner.

Finally, it's good to see that Real Madrid's 12th victory of the season saw them move level with Barcelona and Sevilla at the top of the table with 38 points, but they remained third on goal difference.