Barcelona suffer first defeat, Real dazzle
Barcelona suffered their first Primera Liga
defeat of the season when they lost 2-1 at Real Betis on Sunday,
allowing fierce rivals Real Madrid to cut their lead to four points with
a 6-1 thrashing of Albacete
Barcelona created plenty of opportunities throughout a dramatic match in
Seville but were unable to recover after their hosts pulled 2-0 ahead in
the second half, despite a late goal from Gerard.
At the Bernabeu Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Raul all found the net in a
fast-paced first half with Walter Samuel and substitute Michael Owen
scoring after the break before Ronaldo rounded off the demolition with a
sixth in injury time.
The results sharply narrowed the gap between Real Madrid and Barcelona
before next weekend's showdown between the two teams at the Nou Camp.
After 11 games Barcelona lead the standings with 26 points, four ahead
of Real Madrid. Espanyol, who beat Racing Santander 2-1 on Saturday, are
third on 20.
Barcelona had the better of the first half against Betis and Ronaldinho
came close to scoring with two headers.
But Betis started the second period with more purpose. Edu powered home
their opener in the 49th-minute and Ricardo Oliveira made it 2-0 20
minutes later after more hesitant Barcelona defending.
Barcelona hit straight back when Gerard headed in a cross from Deco
after 71 minutes but they were unable to find an equaliser.
In Madrid Albacete were powerless to stop a devastating early onslaught
from Real, with Raul flicking a Zidane corner on to the far post for
Ronaldo to head home unopposed in the third minute.
The visitors gradually found some rhythm and equalised in the 15th
minute when Francisco turned the ball into the net.
Real then upped their game and, helped by a run of errors in the
Albacete defence, scored twice more before the break.
Zidane claimed his first league goal of the season with a fine
left-footed strike after a pass from Figo and three minutes later the
French midfielder set captain Raul up for a neat header.
In the second period, Real looked even more threatening as the Albacete
defence crumbled. They went 4-1 up in the 49th minute after a David
Beckham free kick following a foul on Figo was headed inside the post by
Ronaldo was the provider as English substitute Owen finished with cool
precision in the 89th minute before the Brazilian dribbled past a clutch
of defenders to score the Real's sixth in time added on.
Owen's goal was his sixth in eight games.
Earlier Atletico Madrid salvaged a 1-1 draw at Real Mallorca to leave
their hosts languishing at the bottom of the table.
On Saturday struggling champions Valencia failed to win for their 10th
straight match as they were held 0-0 at home by Real Zaragoza while
Deportivo Coruna got back on track with a 1-0 win over high-flying