Manuel Labor reports.....
First Division
Second Division
International Matches
First Division - Day Seven

There was a full program of first and second division matches midweek following the short break for the last Euro 2000 qualifying games. Four first division matches were played on a rainy Tuesday night, with the remaining six taking place on the Wednesday. The day's games produced 38 goals, with two seven-goal games involving the Basque teams. Racing's Salva scored four, taking his tally for the season to 10 in 7 games. Only nine points separate the top and bottom clubs, with seven teams at the foot of the table on seven points, and only one point between the bottom eleven teams.

Without doubt the tie of the day was played in Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium, where Barça played Real Madrid, erroneously dubbed a derby match by the Spanish press. Both sides were without key defenders, with Madrid's Roberto Carlos and Hierro and Barcelona's Bogarde all suspended and Barcelona's Frank de Boer and Dehu injured. Madrid were also without McManaman, resting a muscle injury, and their Bosnian forward Balic, who picked up a serious knee injury in training two days before the match which could keep him out for the rest of the season. Van Gaal played the versatile Cocu in the middle of the back four with Zenden on the left midfield, and Toshack brought in Iván Campo and Karanka in defence with Anelka, Morientes, Raúl and Savio all in the starting line up. Toshack was forced to watch the match from the stands after receiving a red card for insulting the referee in the last match. The game started at a great pace, with Barça attacking strongly. However Madrid were dangerous on the counterattack with Anelka hitting the bar early on, and Sergi, Reiziger and Guardiola all received yellow cards for strong tackles. And it was the away side who scored first, the ever dangerous Raúl combining well with Savio to head the ball past Hesp with the Barça marking conspicuous in its absence. Two minutes later however Barça were level, with Rivaldo connecting with Kluivert's pass from the edge of the area to drive the ball into the roof of the net. Sergi was clearly struggling to contain Geremi on the Madrid right, and he was lucky not to have been sent off on two occasions in a few minutes, once for a foul which should have got him a second yellow card, and then for a handball on the line which referee Diaz Vega ruled to be accidental. Madrid players were furious as Roberto Carlos had been sent off for a similar incident the week before. Van Gaal lost his patience, and replaced Sergi before half time with the B team right back Carlos Puyol, moving Reiziger in to the centre of defence and Cocu to the left to contain the Madrid attacks. Barça took the lead five minutes in to the second half through Figo, just back from a three match suspension, who went through the middle and shot past Ilgner from outside of the area. Kluivert then got himself stupidly sent off for suggesting that the referee's mother was a member of the oldest profession in the world after protesting a foul by Iván Campo, and Toshack took advantage to throw on Seedorf in place of Karanka, and then Guti for Morientes. Barcelona retrenched in their own half and Madrid kept up the pressure until they finally got the goal they deserved four minutes from time, Raúl once again latching on to Savio's pass to chip past Hesp. A fair result which leaves Barcelona still top, but only on goal average ahead of Rayo Vallecano, with Madrid eighth, six points behind.

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