First division - day 5
Ronaldo is back! After a six year absence the Brazilian star has returned to Spain, and what an impact he made. After much speculation he finally played his first minutes for Real Madrid, and within 30 seconds of coming on as substitute he had already scored. It was a comfortable game for the European Champions, who ended up winning 5-2 against Alavés. Zidane put them in front in only the second minute with a spectacular goal, and Figo added a second from the penalty spot on the half hour mark. Magno pulled one back before the break though, and Iván Alonso should have levelled the scores when he fired a weak penalty at Casillas. A couple of minutes later though Ronaldo made it three, and after Figo scored his second of the game on a breakaway, Ronaldo ran on to McManaman's pass to score again. Iván Alonso made up for his penalty miss by beating Casillas near the end, but all the headlines were for Ronaldo.
Real Madrid were the only one of the four Champions League sides to win however. Valencia lost their table topping battle with Miguel Angel Lotina's Celta, who move above them into first place in the table. It was a hard game, with referee Rodríguez Santiago awarding three penalties, all of which were saved. The hero of the match was undoubtedly Celta keeper Cavallero, who stopped two spot kicks from Spanish international Baraja, one in each half, to keep his side in the game. The third penalty came in the last minute for the visitors, and this time it was Cañizares who dived to block Vagner's kick. However the ball came back out to the Brazilian midfielder and he forced it back over the line for the winner. It was Celta's first win in the Mestalla stadium in 20 years.
Barcelona were caught out by a struggling Osasuna, who took a point away from the Nou Camp after a 2-2 draw. The Pamplona based side took the lead in the first minute when Rivero ran on to a loose ball to beat Víctor Valdés, and were the better side in the first half. Motta equalised later on after the defence failed to clear a Mendieta cross, but the visitors took the lead again on the stroke of half time when a deflected ball fell to Gancedo who headed past the keeper. Before the half ended though Barcelona went up the other end, and Kluivert headed another equaliser. Even so Aloisi hit the post in the second half, and the home fans were pleased to hear the final whistle.
Deportivo lost their third match at home this season, this time 0-2 to Racing Santander. The Makaay Tristán combination did not come off this time, and the visitors took the lead when a long high ball by Sietes caught the defence napping, Javi Guerrero taking advantage of a rare start to run on and beat Molina. Makaay did hit the woodwork in the second half, but Javi Guerrero popped up again to finish off after Juanma headed against the post, despite protests from the Deportivo defenders that he was offside. Racing have now won three of their last four games in the Riazor, and they move safely up to mid-table, for the time being at least.
Real Sociedad move up to second place, just behind Celta on goal average, after they beat Valladolid 2-1. The win gave the San Sebastian side their best start in 73 years, although they did not look as impressive in the first half as they had in previous outings. Things improved after the break though, and Nihat put them in front running on to a long clearance from Westerveld to drill the ball past Bizzarri. Four minutes later Karpin scored a second with a long shot in off the bar, but Colsa got a goal back with a low free kick almost immediately. However Real held on, and Kovacevic missed a late penalty which would have extended the lead.
Málaga are another team on form, and they go up to third in the table after a 3-1 victory over an Atlético Madrid who ended the game with eight men. Dely Valdés put the Andalucians in front from the penalty spot just before half time after Contra tripped Musampa. The referee awarded a second penalty to the home side after the break, sending off keeper Esteban for the foul on Darío Silva, but although Burgos came on to stop the kick, Fernando Sanz scored on the follow up. Substitute Manu scored a spectacular third, and José Marí got a late consolation goal for the visitors, who by then had had Albertini and Emerson sent off for second bookable offences.
High flying Betis were brought down to earth by the neighbours Sevilla, who came back from a goal down to draw 1-1. The game was marred once again by crowd violence, with rival fans fighting and one young hooligan running on the pitch to attack Betis keeper Prats. Joaquín put the visitors ahead when things died down, heading in a cross from Denilson, but Sevilla came back in the second half, hitting the woodwork twice before Juanito turned Reyes' cross past his own keeper. Betis are now seventh, but could move up three places if they win their suspended game against Real Madrid next Tuesday evening.
Espanyol manager Juande Ramos could be out of a job this week after his side crashed to the bottom of the table. They lost 2-0 to Mallorca, who played all the second half with ten men after Fernando Niño was sent off for a foul on Tamudo. Lozano scored his first goal for his new club after the break though, heading home a Riera free kick, and Eto'o celebrated his return after a five match ban by winning a late penalty and converting the spot kick.
Rayo Vallecano held on to their six month unbeaten home record after coming back from two goals down against Villarreal. Benito Floro's side scored twice in a minute midway through the first half, the first from Belletti after Palermo headed the ball back, and the second a long shot from Marcos Senna. However Bolo headed in Julio Alvarez's cross before the break, and Alvarez himself scored from the penalty spot in the second half, his sixth league goal of the season. (06.10.02)
Athletic Bilbao recorded their first victory of the season against fellow strugglers Recreativo Huelva in the only game played on Saturday night. Their 1-2 win lifts them out of the relegation zone and takes the pressure off Jupp Heynckes, who has been criticised by fans recently. The return of Etxeberría, Tiko and Yeste proved crucial to the team's recovery, and it was Etxeberría who found the gap in the defence to set up Gurpegui to open the scoring in the second half. Then with five minutes to go the Spanish international sent Ezquerro away for him to leave Tiko with an easy tap-in on the far post. Recre pulled one back though through substitute Xisco three minutes later to set up a nail-biting finish. (05.10.02)