Real Madrid beat Racing Santander 3-1 in
the Spanish league on Saturday as it paid tribute to former player
Ferenc Puskas, an all-time great who died the previous day aged 79.
Sergio Ramos, Jose Antonio Reyes and Mahamadou Diarra, who like their
teammates wore black armbands, scored to lift Madrid into second place,
behind FC Barcelona on goal difference.
In Saturday's late game, Sevilla could go top, for at least 24 hours, by
Banners in the crowd read "Puskas R.I.P" and "Puskas, eternal, legend"
in Spanish, while images of the Hungarian forward in action were
displayed on the video screen at Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Both sets of players gathered around the center circle before kick-off
to hear a cellist seated on a dais on the field play a somber
composition by Pau Casals.
Puskas, nicknamed "Pancho" by Madrid fans, joined the club as a veteran
in 1958. During an eight-year spell he scored 324 goals in 372 matches
and helped the club win three European Cup titles and five straight
Spanish league titles.
Santander, which went into the match on a seven-game unbeaten run, fell
behind in the fifth minute when Ramos leaped to power home a downward
header from Reyes' corner.
Having withstood several uncomfortable moments, Madrid doubled its lead
in the 58th minute. Diarra and Emerson threaded the ball through to
Reyes, and the forward beat goalkeeper Tono Rodriguez at the near post
with a low shot.
Diarra added the third goal in the 70th by poking the ball home from
close range at the second attempt after a low cross from Raul Gonzalez.
Madrid lacked injured David Beckham and Ronaldo, but included Fabio
Cannavaro, who is expected to be named European player of the year on
The Italian defender, who captained his national team to the World Cup
in July, received an ovation from the crowd on being substituted in the
Santander, which beat Madrid 2-1 in December on its previous visit,
pulled a goal back in the 76th through defender Ezequiel Garay's
spectacular free kick from just outside the area.
Madrid was reduced to 10 men just before the end of the match when
midfielder Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez was sent off for a foul on
midfielder Victor Vitolo.
Barcelona and Madrid have 23 points, while Sevilla has 22 and Zaragoza
On Sunday, Barcelona visits Mallorca, while Zaragoza hosts Gimnastic
The other games are: Real Sociedad vs. Real Betis; Levante vs. Atletico
Madrid; Villarreal vs. Getafe; Recreativo Huelva vs. Osasuna; Espanyol
vs. Athletic Bilbao; and Deportivo La Coruna vs. Celta Vigo.