A header from Zinedine Zidane in
overtime gave three points to a brave Real Madrid, that recovered in two
times and deserved the victory. Javi Guerrero and Benayoun put Racing
ahead, but the goals from Owen and Raúl neutralized the advantage...
until the number '5' did justice. García Remón bet on the young Javi
García and Raúl Bravo as opposed to Beckham and Roberto Carlos. And so
Real Madrid reaches its third consecutive draw. 2004 will be decided
with Sevilla´s visit to Santiago Bernabéu.
The League is looking uphill at this time of the year, and so because of
this, Madrid had to beat in Santander. In this game, García Remón
changed his line-up, due to the absence of an injured Ronaldo. Owen came
on to substitute him, as well as Javi García instead of Beckham and Raúl
Bravo instead of Roberto Carlos. Thus, the bet for the young players was
clear with five footballers bred in the inferior categories. In Racing,
Lucas Alcaraz, who has been father of twins few hours before the game,
recovered Anderson in order to get the three points after almost two
months without achieving it.
Hard rhythm and play
The drive of Santander´s players during the first minutes of the game to
stop the entrance of Real Madrid brought some dangerous tackles. The
main victims were Guti and Michael Owen, though Figo also couldn´t avoid
falling down. The game had rhythm, both teams needed the victory. Madrid,
wearing for the first time its blue equipment, was tightening, meanwhile
its opponent relied on Benayoun and Javi Guerrero in order to reach Iker
Guti and Javi García tried to get the hold of the game, but Nafti and
Anderson struggled to recover the ball as soon as possible. That´s how
the best opportunities of locals came along, though not clear, made
García Remón´s bench to worry. The Israeli player Benayoun started to
warm up, and his player fellows were looking for him constantly. And
precisely, when the players took a slight break, the unexpected happened.
A foul rebounded from the midfield turned dangerous, Raúl Bravo didn´t
reach it, Pedro López could make a pass to the Israeli player and it
went beyond Casillas (23th minute).
With the scoreboard against, and the League getting increasingly out of
reach, Real Madrid found its support in its particular watchmaker to
come back to life. In his six months with Madrid, Michael Owen has
always turned punctual in his date with the goals, and it didn’t change
this time in Santander. During his first appearance, the English player
made the watch go backwards in El Sardinero to the 34th minute heading a
shot from Javi García. And one minute later, he almost turned the game
around in an electric play that he wasn’t able to finish off. Until the
half time, exchange of goals and slight improvement of Madrid.
It didn´t have continuity for Racing, during its first approach after
the resumption, and that managed to get ahead thanks to the couple
Benayoun-Guerreo (50th minute´). Now it was time to struggle. Fastly,
Madrid launched an attack, though to the expense of receiving a lethal
counterattack, but they had to risk it all. And the captain was the
first one to see the shore. Ten minutes after the local goal, Raúl
balanced the game during the best minutes of his team, with Figo
everywhere and Guti leading at his will. The inertia had changed and the
local defence was cracking quickly.
Owen signed the recovery, but Muñiz Fernández anulated due to a very
doubtful hand (71th minute). In this period, García Remón´s team was
launched towards the three points shamelessly. The point was not enough
for both teams, but the team looked doomed to finish like this.
Morientes came in for the final part, and contributed in the goal that
gave the victory to Madrid. The number '8' placer touched a corner shot
from Figo to pass it to Zidane, who got the three golden points in the
overtime. Next Wednesday, in Santiago Bernabéu, good-bye to 2004 against