RONALDO has temporarily
shrugged off his love-hate relationship with Real Madrid fans.
The Brzilian striker scored his 100th goal for Real today (AEST) but it
wasn't enough as an Iker Casillas howler gifted Real Sociedad a point at
To compound matters worse for Real, Valencia leapfrogged it into second
place behind Barcelona in the table after beating Celta Vigo 1-0.
Valencia's win left it equal with Real on 59 points – 10 behind Barca –
but in second on a better head-to-head record.
When Ronaldo netted with a sweet right-foot volley from a crossfield
Zinedine Zidane pass after 25 minutes, Real looked bound for a win that
would at least have added a modicum of pressure to runaway leader and
defending champion Barcelona, which visits Racing Santander tonight (AEST).
Instead, Casillas flapped at a Mikel Alonso lofted cross into the box
and Mark Gonzalez – on loan from Liverpool – swept home the gift.
To compound Real's misery they played out the final four minutes with 10
men after Guti was sent off in a bad-tempered finale which had the home
crowd booing in disapproval.
The one point was in contrast a blessing for relegation-threatened
Sociedad as it drew level with fourth-bottom club Mallorca.
Ronaldo, who last week saved a point at old club Barcelona – which can
now win the championship next weekend if it wins today and then at
fellow Champions League semi-finalists Villarreal – might have put the
match beyond doubt long before the break.
He hit the post from close range and then ballooned the rebound over the
crossbar off a Robinho pass.
At the other end Gonzalez had looked lively and drew a smart Casillas
save after 11 minutes as Sociedad dug in hard.
The same player then headed wide and on the strike of half-time Casillas
again found himself having to stop Gonzalez, this time an effort from
distance, as the visitor showed Real that one goal was unlikely to prove
Ronaldo was subbed after tweaking a leg muscle on the hour by Italian
Cassano strove to make his mark but was caught up in a sea of increasing
mediocrity as the game began to lost its momentum after the keeper's
An exciting Robinho run 12 minutes from the end deserved greater reward
than for a left-foot shot off target.
Guti then lost his head and referee Fernandez Borbalan, who also dished
out six yellow cards, gave him a red for dissent.
In Galicia, Valencia took the lead against home side Celta Vigo
after 30 minutes, Miguel Angulo latching onto a smart lay-off from
Uruguay international midfielder Mario Regueiro to drive a snapshot
under the body of goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto.
The impressive Regueiro had a chance to make it two 10 minutes later,
but blasted his shot high and wide.
Pinto atoned for his first-half mistake with excellent saves of a David
Villa shot and a Regueiro follow-up six minutes after the restart, but
Pinto's Celta teammates could not break down the Valencia defence in a
Barca travels to Santander today (AEST) with coach Frank Rijkaard
resting Ronaldinho, who sustained a bruised leg against Benfica in the
midweek Champions League quarter-final win.