Deco keeps Barca flying high as Ronaldo rescues Real
Brazilians bagged the plaudits in Spain's
La Liga as Deco, Brazil-born but a naturalized Portuguese international,
fired Barcelona five points clear of the pack with the only goal in a
derby win over Espanyol.
Ronaldo meanwhile poached his first league goal since the opening day of
the season to end a personal drought of 586 minutes for the meringues to
snatch a point for Real Madrid in a 1-1 draw at Betis.
The one point was more than Real deserved based on a pale first-half
showing and although they recovered their poise after the break they
remain just tenth in the table with ten points from seven games and
could fall further after the remainder of the weekend programme.
Barca in contrast have 19 points from the same number of matches after
Deco smacked in a ninth-minute effort which took a wicked deflection off
Angel Morales after good work by Cameroon international striker Samuel
Barcelona, who largely shut up shop after Deco's goal, lead reigning
champions Valencia by five points although Claudio Ranieri's men have a
game in hand and meet Seville at home on Sunday.
Real Madrid coach Mariano Garcia Remon lamented poor finishing after his
side were forced to rely on a trademark poacher's strike from Ronaldo in
a fortuitous 1-1 draw at Real Betis on Saturday.
"Betis were the better side in the first half, but I think we had more
than enough chances to win it," said Remon, who replaced Jose Antonio
Camacho as coach last month.
The draw leaves Real marooned in midtable with ten points from their
seven league matches this season and their performance did little to
suggest they are in the mood to steamroller Dynamo Kiev in next week's
make-or break Champions League encounter at the Bernabeu.
Iker Casillas in the Real goal was the busier of the two keepers as
Betis went for the jugular and they smelt blood as several early chances
went begging before the hosts, showing greater urgency in front of their
home fans than their feted rivals, took the lead on the half hour.
Oliveira deftly swept home a first-time shot after a neat through ball
from Fernando caught Real's defence napping.
Just when it looked as if Real were on the verge of slumping to their
fourth league defeat in seven games this season up popped goal machine
Ronaldo to drill home in similar style after a one-two with Zinedine
Zidane in the 65th minute as the visitors upped the tempo late on.
Raul thought he had put Real into a 28th-minute lead but his header from
a floated pass by Luis Figo was chalked off for offside.
Figo and Zidane were called upon to rouse Real's engine room in the
absence of England star David Beckham, whose hairline rib fracture
sustained in a World Cup qualifier against Wales last weekend will keep
him out of action for over a month.
Beckham could theoretically return to action at the Bernabeu against
some of his Real teammates as England visit for a friendly international
against Spain on November 17 but the indications are that he will not
Beckham's England teammate Michael Owen, on target for his country in
midweek, was full of running in the second half after coming on in place
of defender Walter Samuel but failed to break his Real duck.
Casillas had to perform heroics right after the restart in dropping to
his left to keep out an Oliveira piledriver before Zidane almost
snatched an unlikely win bonus for Real right at the death with a meaty
effort which Tony Prats in the home goal did well to save.
Earlier, Deportivo La Coruna warmed up for next week's Champions League
visit of Liverpool with their first home win of the season, by a
wafer-thin 2-1 margin against promoted Getafe.
Javier Irureta's Deportivo have struggled this season but goals from
Sergio on 17 minutes and Victor 17 minutes from the end gave the
northwesterners their third win this term to shunt them into the top
half of the table.
Mario Cotelo netted in the final seconds for Getafe's consolation.