Manuel Labor reports.....
First Division
Second Division
Copa del Rey
International Matches
First Division - Match postponed from week 19

Valladolid 0 - Real Madrid 1

Valladolid: César; Torres Gómez, Heinze, García Calvo, Peña, Marcos; Jiménez, Caminero, Vizcaino; Víctor, Shoji Jo. 5-3-2.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Karanka, Hierro, Roberto Carlos; McManaman, Iván Helguera, Redondo, Ognjenovic; Guti; Morientes. 4-4-1-1.

Team changes:Valladolid: Vizcaino for Marquez / Real Madrid: Salgado, Helguera, Ognjenovic, Morientes for Karembeu, Sanchis, Meca, Raúl.

1-0. 85. Meca. Low shot from outside of area.

Real Madrid moved up to third place in the league after beating Valladolid in the last minutes of the match. This game was one of those postponed due to Madrid's participation in the club world championship, and was originally scheduled to be played next week. However, the clash with Spain's match with Croatia, and the hoo-ha after the last game with Camacho threatening to resign if players were not available, meant that it was brought forward, even though Madrid have an important cup match on Thursday. Four players, García Calvo and Caminero for the home side and Roberto Carlos and Redondo for the visitors, picked up their fifth yellow cards in their last matches and should have been suspended, but in another of those twisted decisions by the disciplinary committee they ruled that, as this match was rescheduled from a previous day, the suspensions would be served in the next match. Doctor Who (well known time traveller) must be their advisor. The excessive number of matches is taking it's toll on the Meringues, and Morientes was the only first team forward half fit for this game. He played alone up front despite not having fully recovered from a testicle infection (nasty), with Guti playing behind him as an inprovised support striker. His team were up against the Japans on all sides, with Shoji Jo in Valladolid's starting line up being watched live on Japanese television by millions of his fans, and referee José Japón Sevilla being chosen by the computer to officiate. Japón (Japan in Spanish) is Spanish, but his predecessors came from a Japanese colony who arrived in Coria some four centuries ago. Both keepers were called upon to make important saves, with César, who will be playing in Madrid next year, saving from McManaman and Casillas stopping a point blank shot from Caminero. In the second half Del Bosque brought on young strikers Meca and Zárate for McManaman and Ognjenovic, and after Zárate hit the post, Meca got the goal near the end to give his side the points. Valladolid's García Calvo picked up an injury and had to be substituted by Tena early in the second half, and and Chema and Alberto came on for Caminero and Shoji Jo halfway through the second half. Having been seventeenth ten games ago Madrid are now third, their best ever recovery. Valladolid move perilously close to the drop zone in 16th place.

First Division - Day Twenty Five

Deportivo de La Coruña 2 - Athletic Bilbao 0

Deportivo: Songo'o; Manuel Pablo, Donato, Naybet, Romero; Flavio, Mauro Silva; Víctor, Djalminha, Fran; Makaay. 4-2-3-1.
Athletic: Imanol Etxeberria; Lacruz, Carlos García, Ferreira, Larrazábal; Urrutia, Alkiza; Joseba Etxeberria, Tiko, Ezquerro; Urzaiz. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Depor: Naybet, Flavio for Schurrer, Jaime / Athletic:Tiko for Felipe.

1-0. 44. Flavio. Strong shot from 30 metres out which beat Imanol.
2-0. 59. Ferreira (own goal). Intercepted Makaay's cross and deflected into own net.

Deportivo moved five points clear at the top with a convincing victory against Athletic Bilbao. Manager Javier Irureta was able to choose from a full squad, with Naybet returning from international duties and Flavio coming back after a suspension. Makkay kept his place up front, with Turu and Pauleta on the bench. Luis Fernández was forced to leave club captain Julen Guerrero back in Bilbao after suffering a back injury on Monday, and had defenders Alkorta, Larrainzar and Rios still out. Deportivo's home record is good this season, and they recorded their tenth victory in twelve games against a Bilbao side who have not won in Coruña for 36 years. Flavio scored his second of the season, curiously having also scored his first in the previous match against Bilbao. The turning point however was when referee Japón Sevilla sent off Bilbao's Alkiza for a second bookable offence just after half time. The decision was strongly protested by Bilbao players, who complained about Japón's performance, giving seven yellow cards and a red to the visitors against only one yellow to the home side. Fernández brought on Imaz, José Mari and Sivori for Tiko, Ezquerro and Urzaiz during the second half in an attempt to get back in the match. Turu came on for Fran, recalled to the Spanish squad this week, in the 65th minute, and Jaime and Pauleta came on near the end. Rival supporters clubs played a friendly match before the game, although other fans caused some disturbance later in the evening.

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