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Madrid rediscover winning habit

Published: Saturday 29 October 2005, 23.50CET
Group F: Real Madrid CF ended a two-match losing streak to claim a first win in six seasons at Real Betis Balompié. features

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Published: Saturday 29 October 2005, 23.50CET

Madrid rediscover winning habit

Group F: Real Madrid CF ended a two-match losing streak to claim a first win in six seasons at Real Betis Balompié.
Real Madrid CF, Olympiacos CFP and Olympique Lyonnais maintained their title challenges in their respective leagues with weekend wins. The same cannot be said of UEFA Champions League Group F rivals Rosenborg BK, however, whose 13-year domestic reign came to an end following the conclusion of the Norwegian Tippeligaen season.

Apollon Kalamarias FC 1-2 Olympiacos CFP

Olympiacos returned to winning ways following two straight league defeats with a 2-1 victory in Thessaloniki. Ioannis Okkas fired a powerful shot to open the scoring for the Greek champions on the stroke of half-time, only for substitute Ali El Omari to level matters on the hour. However, Michalis Konstantinou ensured maximum points for Olympiacos eleven minutes later when he reacted quickest following Pavol Kovac's save from Predrag Djordjević's shot.

"It's important to bounce back after the defeats," said Olympiacos coach Trond Sollied. "It was not easy to perform well. We had many chances in the first half, but scored only one goal. My players got nervous after the equaliser, but we got the win and that's more important than anything."

Brazilian midfielder Rivaldo was left on the bench on Saturday ahead of Tuesday's match in Lyon, while regular goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis (fever) and defender Michalis Kapsis (leg) failed to make the trip. Midfielder Ioannis Taralidis, who has undergone abdominal surgery, and defender Anastassios Pantos (leg) remain long-term absentees.

Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 FC Sochaux-Montbéliard

Ligue 1 leaders Lyon maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a deserved, but narrow, home win against strugglers FC Sochaux-Montbéliard on Saturday. Florent Malouda was on hand to score the winning goal from an Eric Abidal cross after 54 minutes.

"We just lacked the belief to claim a bigger winning margin," said Lyon coach Gérard Houllier. "But I enjoyed the pace of the game and the way we kept it tight at the end." Houllier fielded a near full-strength side with the exception of Anthony Réveillère who is nursing a groin injury from last week's league win against AC Ajaccio, though he should be fit to face Olympiacos.

A weakened Lyon side were eliminated from the French League Cup in midweek on penalties against FC Nantes Atlantique, following a 1-1 draw after extra time. Meanwhile, the French champions have since been boosted after goalkeeper Grégory Coupet signed a contract extension until June 2008. The deal also includes a coaching position at the end of his playing career.

Rosenborg BK 1-1 Tromsø IL

Rosenborg completed their Norwegian Tippeligaen campaign with a home draw to finish seventh in the table - the first time they have failed to lift the league title since 1991. Stephen Ademolu put the visitors in front after 47 minutes from close range, before forward Daniel Braaten hit back for Rosenborg after 62 minutes from a Øyvind Storflor cross.

"We played well against an in-form side, but didn't convert enough of our chances," said Rosenborg coach Per-Mathias Høgmo. "We created a lot, and that is something positive to take out of the game ahead of the clash with Madrid."

The UEFA Champions League is all that remains now for Høgmo's side this season. Midfielder Ørjan Berg (ankle) and defender Miika Koppinen (knee) are out for the visit of Madrid on Tuesday, though Roar Strand is likely to recover after being rested for the Tromsø game following a leg injury.

Real Betis Balompié 0-2 Real Madrid CF

Goals in either half from Robinho and substitute Álvaro Mejía proved enough to hand Madrid their first win at Real Betis Balompié since the 1999/00 season, and get their league campaign back on track following two straight defeats. Despite having his red card against Valencia CF last weekend rescinded, David Beckham was forced to miss the game with a hamstring injury.

Ronaldo (ankle), Julio Baptista (knee), Zinedine Zidane (groin) and Thomas Gravesen (suspended) were also absent, forcing coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo to partner centre-back Sergio Ramos in central midfield alongside Pablo García and Carlos Diogo. Jonathan Woodgate joined Iván Helguera in central defence. Míchel Salgado returned following a torn hamstring only to be forced off on 82 minutes with a suspected fractured jaw bone.

"This is an important win for us," Luxemburgo said. "I'm happy to have seen my players show grit, determination and to have displayed their better side. Even if we had lost tonight, I would have been satisfied with the effort we put in. I was particularly pleased with Sergio Ramos - he is a versatile player, who can play almost anywhere - he is still young but plays with great spirit and never gives up."

Last updated: 31/10/05 1.04CET

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