Raul puts Real Madrid eight points ahead of BarcelonaMarch 9th, 2008 - 3:52 pm ICT by admin
Madrid, March 9 (DPA) Real Madrid have put their Euro problems behind with a defiant 2-1 home win over lively Espanyol in Spanish Football League here. As so often this season in the Estadio Bernabeu, Real had to come from behind, with goals from Gonzalo Higuain and veteran captain Raul Gonzalez.
Raul’s winning goal Saturday came from a controversial penalty 18 minutes from time, and caused Espanyol to leave moaning about the referee.
The morale-boosting win leaves the whites eight points ahead of second-placed Barcelona, who on Sunday are at home to third-placed Villarreal.
It will also relieve some of the pressure on coach Bernd Schuster, who was against the ropes after seven defeats in two months.
Once again, Real did not play well, but came through thanks to their legendary fighting spirit. As a consequence of Wednesday’s Champions League meltdown against AS Roma, Real made a shaky start against well-organized Espanyol.
In the 29th minute, Valdo Lopes headed the visitors into the lead on a centre from Luis Garcia, after the Real defence had failed to clear a corner.
But Higuain made it 1-1 three minutes before half-time, turning in a Marcelo centre that Espanyol keeper Carlos Kameni had failed to cut out.
Espanyol retook control in the second half but lacked penetration in attack. In the 71st minute, the hosts were given a dubious penalty for an alleged pull by Daniel Jarque on Raul, and the former Spain captain calmly converted from the spot.
Real finished the game in poor physical shape, desperate for the final whistle.
The defeat leaves Espanyol in fifth place, with 42 points from 27 games, two points behind Atletico Madrid, who lost 2-1 in Zaragoza later Saturday.
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