Seventh straight win for Real MadridFebruary 8th, 2009 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS
Madrid, Feb 8 (DPA) Real Madrid battled to their seventh straight Liga win Saturday, 1-0 at home to willing but harmless Racing Santander.
It was the fourth 1-0 home win since Juande Ramos took over two months ago, and imposed an unattractive but effective counter-attacking style.
The colourless win leaves Real in second place, nine points above third-placed Sevilla, who surprisingly crashed 2-1 at home to crosstown rivals Betis later Saturday, in their third straight defeat.
Real are nine points behind record-breaking leaders Barcelona.
The only three Real players to warm up the Estadio Bernabeu on a chilly night were Gonzalo Higuain, scorer of the only goal; Arjen Robben with his handsome wingplay; and keeper Iker Casillas, who had to work hard towards the end.
“The important thing is that we carry on winning,” said Casillas.
“It wasn’t our best game of the season,” he added, “but we are not conceding goals, and we are winning games.”
The goal came five minutes into the second half. Veteran Raul headed on a long ball, Higuain skipped past defender Cesar Navas and scored his 13th goal of the season with a powerful drive.
Santander struggled gamely for an equalizer, but lacked the necessary penetration up front.
Then came the stormy Seville derby, as tight and tense as ever.
The turning-point came in the 69th minute, when Sevilla midfielder Aldo Duscher got himself sent off. A minute later Betis took the lead, when Sergio Garcia volleyed in a long free-kick from Melli.
Seven minutes from time prodigal son Ricardo Oliveira - now back at Betis after three years on the road - made it 2-0 with a low drive.
Frederic Kanoute gave Sevilla hope by heading home a Fernando Navarro centre in injury time. But Betis had few problems in holding on for their first win in Sevilla’s Sanchez Pizjuan since 1996.
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