Real Madrid CF were unable to make the most of Valencia CF's slip-up at home against Real Racing Club Santander in the Primera División at the weekend following a shock 4-1 defeat at the hands of Sevilla FC.
Had Madrid won, Carlos Queiroz's side would have gone top of the standings but that prospect looked considerably less certain after conceding three times inside the first 15 minutes. An own goal from Iván Helguera ensured the match started in the worst possible fashion for the visitors, who went further behind after strikes from Dario Silva - following an incisive pass from José Reyes - Brazilian defender Daniel Alves and midfield player Francisco Casquero.
Two red cards
Ronaldo pulled one back at the start of the second half when he collected the ball on the right and slammed in from outside the box for his ninth goal of the season but Sevilla's defence otherwise held firm. Both Guti and Dario Silva were sent off for second bookable offences in the final stages.
Valencia CF also missed the chance to go to the summit when they went down 2-1 at home to in-form Racing. Striker Rodolfo Bodipo scored both Racing goals, giving his team the lead when he took advantage of a short back-pass from Carlos Marchena to finish from close range shortly after the break. Spanish international midfield player Rubén Baraja was on target for the home team.
All this meant that RC Deportivo de La Coruña’s 2-1 defeat of Real Sociedad de Fútbol on Saturday - the perfect response to their 8-3 humiliation by AS Monaco FC in the UEFA Champions League in midweek - was enough for them to assume the league leadership.
The Galician side had to come from behind after Nihat Kahveci’s spectacular long-range effort went in at the right post in the first half, levelling in the 72nd minute when Igor Jauregi clipped the ball into his own net after a cross from Joan Capdevila. The same player inadvertently scored another own goal for Depor's second, turning in Walter Pandiani's header from a Djalminha corner.
FC Barcelona, meanwhile, climbed into fourth position courtesy of a 2-1 home win against Real Betis Balompié. Patrick Kluivert put his side ahead at the Camp Nou on the cusp of half-time and Mexican defender Rafael Márquez cemented the victory after Fernando Fernández had equalized shortly after the interval.
Club Atlético Madrid’s resurgence continued as they racked up their fifth consecutive victory - to go fifth - thanks to a 1-0 defeat of UEFA Cup hopefuls Villarreal CF at the Vicente Calderón. Midfield player Álvaro Novo struck the winner in the 54th minute. Striker Fernando Correa, meanwhile, inspired RCD Mallorca to victory, scoring twice in a 4-1 defeat of second-from bottom Real Murcia CF.
CA Osasuna, in sixth, were held to a 1-1 home draw by Real Valladolid while Real Zaragoza drew 1-1 at home to RC Celta de Vigo. The decisive action came in the first ten minutes, with José Ignacio Sáenz striking in the fourth minute before Leonardo Ponizo equalised.
In the other games, Athletic Club Bilbao came out 1-0 winners against RCD Espanyol and Málaga CF built on last week’s defeat of Sevilla with a narrow 1-0 victory against Albacete Balompié, Salva's second-half goal proving the difference.
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