Spanish international striker Raúl González marked his return to action by inspiring Real Madrid CF to a 3-1 win over Deportivo Alavés but Valencia CF still top the Primera División after beating FC Barcelona 2-0.
Alavés took the lead against Madrid after just seven minutes when Dutch midfield player Richard Witschge headed in a fine cross from Delfi Geli, and the visitors proceeded to dominate the rest of the half. But the course of the game was changed when Madrid scored an equaliser on the stroke of half-time as Guti headed in at the near post after right-back Michel Salgado had weaved his way past three Alavés defenders.
Raúl the architect
It was Raúl, though, who was the architect of Madrid's victory. The 24-year-old scored just five minutes after coming off the bench in the second half when he latched on to a through-ball from Zinedine Zidane, chipped keeper Kike and lashed the ball into the empty net. The Madrid striker then manufactured his side's third goal when he was awarded a penalty after he went down in the area under pressure from Geli. Skipper Fernando Hierro smashed the spot-kick into the net.
Valencia stay top
Meanwhile, at the Mestalla stadium Valencia beat Barcelona 2-0 to maintain their one-point advantage over Madrid. Francisco Rufete scored the opener after 16 minutes and Pablo Aimar made sure of the points with a 62nd-minute goal. RC Deportivo La Coruña moved into third place, a point ahead of Barcelona, with a 1-0 win against Real Zaragoza. Diego Tristán scored the only goal of the game after 20 minutes.