Real Madrid took advantage of the
opportunity provided by the leaders defeat to shorten the distance by
two points, with a well deserved and narrow victory against Albacete, a
serious team, who didn´t deserve their position on the table. The
absences of Beckham and Zidane were joined by Raúl´s, so Luxemburgo was
missing three of his usual players. Helguera, the best man of the game
and Owen, were the authors of the Whites goals.
Madrid went out to the pitch wishing to play the game quickly and this
wish had two opposite effects. The positive one, materialized in a goal
from Ronaldo in the first minute of play, although the goal was
cancelled out by an offside which never happened. And the negative
effect, reflected in the anxiety whichLuxemburgo´s men were suffering
and which made them receive a goal during the first attacking play.
Nevertheless, the early goal from the locals (8th minute) didn´t alter
the play or the scenery of the game. Madrid´s players continued with
their aim of breaking the local net and they achieved it six minutes
later when Helguera, the best player of the game, connected a header
which sneaked clearly through to Valbuena´s net. It was the reward for
his best game.
During more than half an hour, the game was very interesting for the
fans who could see how Albacete were facing with speed and strength the
best technical play from the Whites (today they were wearing black). In
this give-and-take, Luxemburgo´s men had the best part. They just had to
wait for the materialization of one of the clear occasions for goals
they were having. Samuel almost did it, at minute 21, but his header
went out by a little. Later, Valbuena made the “stop of the night” on a
venomous shot from Roberto Carlos. And nevertheless, it was at the end
of the first half, when the players were looking forward the break, when
Owen, after a sensational pass from Guti, gave the advantage to Madrid.
A just result for a team that were clearly looking for victory.
Albacete didn´t give up. They knew that defeat would sink them deeper
into the second division´s pit and they went to the pitch determined to
go out fighting. They put on the pressure and they almost achieved their
aim during the first play on Casillas´s net (minute 47), when Redondo,
at less than two meters from the goal line, sent a shot freely but the
the international goalkeeper came up in a great performance that avoided
a goal already celebrated in the stands.
It was the last drop so the game entered a frenetic period, with
Albacete focused on attack and Real Madrid trying to ensure victory with
electrifying counterattacks. And they didn´t have any lack of occasions.
Ronaldo, at minute 51, sent the ball to the crossbar, after a header.
Later, Ronaldo and Owen had two cances to score. Figo had his own chance,
but luck was with the locals.
After an hour of play, Luxemburgo put Celades into play in substitution
for Solari, reinforcing Madrid´s midfield, where they stopped again and
again the locals attempts, which with the passing of time, dissolved
like sugar in a glass of water. Only Valbuena, with two excellent
performances against the shots from Ronaldo, prevented the difference of