Two goals derived from Roberto
Carlos's trademark thunderbolt left foot free-kicks proved to be the difference
as Real Madrid consolidated their position at the top of the Spanish first
division with a hard fought 2-1 win at Albacete.
"It was a tough game for both teams.
When they had the ball we closed them down well and vice-versa. We didn't have a
great game but we overcame the suffering to win," said Real coach Carlos Queiroz.
The Brazilian World Cup winner
opened the scoring after 19 minutes with a shot from the edge of the area,
although the ball took a deflection from Albacete defender Oscar Montiel which
left his keeper Manuel Almunia with little hope of stopping the ball reaching
Luis Figo was credited with the
reigning Spanish champions' second goal after 71 minutes, although in fairness
the Portugal captain knew next-to-nothing about his seventh league goal of the
season as Roberto Carlos's long distance hot struck him on the hip before flying
Libero Parri gave Real an anxious
final few minutes when he scored from an individual effort eight minutes from
Parri's right foot blast from 25
metres bouncing awkwardly in front of Iker Casillas before the Spanish
international pushed the ball into his own net, but Real clung on to their three
points during a frantic final few minutes.
However, it was the only error
Casillas made all night and he produced a spectacular reaction save midway
through the second half to stop Mikel Aguirre from scoring with a close-range
"I think we gave a good account of
ourselves. We lost to two goals from free kicks which took deflections that our
keeper couldn't do anything about," said Albacete coach Cesar Ferrero.
"But I'm happy with the team, we
were very disciplined tonight and showed that we can more-or-less hold our own
Ferrero was clearly referring to
the fact that his newly-promoted side were many pundit's pre-season favourites
to make an immediate return to the second division but now look likely to
With a budget of just 13 million
euros, Albacete are the Spanish first division's most impoverished club.
The win gives Real Madrid 67 points
from their 31 games, four points clear of their nearest rival Valencia, who have
a game in hand.
Valencia play host to bottom club
Murcia on Sunday, who have yet to win away from home this season.
One negative note for Real was that
their Argentine utility man Santiago Solari picked up his fifth yellow card of
the season and will have to sit out Real's match against Osasuna next week.
Barcelona's nine game winning
streak, the second longest in the Catalan club's history, came to an end when
they could only draw 0-0 with Villarreal.
Javier Saviola hit the post after
21 minutes but that was the closest Barca came to getting a goal, with
Ronaldinho below form and mis-firing badly for the entire 90 minutes
Former Barcelona player Roger
Garcia hit the post for Villarreal just before the break.
Roger was among four ex-Barca
players among the Villarreal team along with goalkeeper Jose Manuel Reina and
striker Sonny Anderon and Juan Roman Riquelme.
Perhaps because they were trying to
prove a point on their return to the Nou Camp, the quartet were Villarreal's
best performers on the night.
Barca have 56 points but remain in
fourth on goal difference from Deportivo La Coruna, who are at home to Real
Betis on Sunday.
Earlier on Saturday, Sevilla
bounced back from their 5-1 thrashing at Real Madrid last weekend and got a hard
fought 1-0 win over Espanyol.
The only goal of the game came
after 51 minutes when Antonito Ramiro slid in to push home a Dario Silva cross.