| Manuel Labor reports.....
|First Division - Day Thirty Four|
Deportivo de La Coruña 2 - Real Sociedad 0
Manuel Pablo, César (Romero 60'), Donato, Schurrer; Mauro Silva,
Jokanovic; Víctor,Djalminha (Pauleta 80'), Fran (Turu Flores 65');
Team changes: Depor: Djalminha, Fran for Flavio, Turu Flores / Real: Guerrero, Jauregui, De Paula for Corino, Rekarte, Aranburu.
Deportivo held on to their five point lead at the top after defeating Real Sociedad with two first half goals from Makaay and César. The company televising this match on Sunday night brought forward their schedule by an hour to allow Flavio to play before he left to join Brazil's squad, but in the end it was to no avail, as the midfielder had to leave earlier. His absence gave Irureta a chance to make peace with Djalminha, who had been on the bench for the last two games, and to return to his favoured 4-2-3-1 line up. Club captain Fran recovered from an injury, and came in for Turu Flores on the left hand side. Javier Clemente opted for the ten-pin bowling line up, with De Paula winning a place in the starting line up after scoring twice last week, and Jauregui, an aggressive young midfielder, coming in for his first start for almost a year after a long injury in preference to the more technical De Pedro. Real's defensive tactics limited Deportivo to long shots, and the visitors almost took the lead when Songo'o saved well from Sa Pinto. However the home side took the lead just after the half hour mark with a controversial goal, Schurrer playing the ball forward to Fran on the left after it had clearly gone out of play. Referee Esquinas Torres waved play on, and Fran crossed for Makaay to score. Nine minutes later César added the second, again protested by the Real defenders for a possible foul by the international defender on Jauregui. In the second half César had to leave the field with a hamstring injury which could mean he misses the Euro 2000 championship, Romero coming on at left back with Schurrer switching to the middle of defence, and Irureta brought on Turu for a tired Fran. Clemente introduced De Pedro and Mutiu, but any chance that Real had of saving the match disappeared when Sa Pinto got himself sent off for two silly yellow cards in three minutes, the first for protesting and the second for an unnecessary hand ball. Deportivo could have extended their lead, but Alberto pulled off a couple of good saves, and Pikabea cleared a shot from Turu off the line. Turu hit the post with a solo effort and Djalminha missed a sitter, but it mattered little at that stage in the game. Deportivo have now won all eight home matches in the second half of the season, and if they win their last two it should be enough to clinch the championship. Next week they have a vital away derby at Celta, which could take them a step closer. Real Sociedad lose after having won their last two games, but they at least appear to be safe for now.
Deportivo: Celta (A), Zaragoza (H), Racing (A), Espanyol (H)
Real Madrid 2 - Racing Santander 4
Casillas; Michel Salgado (Geremi 24'), Iván Campo, Karanka (Baljic 60'),
Roberto Carlos; McManaman, Iván Helguera, Redondo, Savio (Anelka 46');
Raúl, Morientes. 4-4-2.
Team changes: Madrid: Roberto Carlos for Fernando / Racing: Colsa, Manjarín for Bestchastnykh, Amavisca..
Real Madrid were brought down to earth by a Racing Santander side fighting for survival in the first division. Having beaten Manchester United in Old Trafford midweek to qualify for the Champions League semi-finals, Madrid were not expected to have any problems with the Cantabrian side. However Racing's away record is better than at home this season, and they came out looking for the three points from the off, scoring four goals against a defence that had only let in one in their last five league games. Real's manager Vicente Del Bosque decided not to change a winning side, playing the same starting line up that beat the English champions. That meant another place on the bench for Anelka, rumoured to be in line for a start in order to rest tired legs for the cup semi-final midweek. Racing's Amavisca was the most disappointed man of the weekend. He had been looking forward to returning to play against the club who let him go a couple of seasons ago, but a serious knee injury last week meant an operation and goodbye to the rest of the season. Manjarín took his place, with Colsa coming in alongside Espina, leaving Vivar Dorado to return to his more usual position behind the attack. Munitis quickly showed why half the clubs in Spain are after him, putting in two early crosses which brought the best out of Casillas. Michel Salgado was forced to leave the field halfway through the half with a twisted ankle after a Manjarín tackle, and the veteran winger was lucky not be shown a yellow card. Shortly afterwards Real Madrid took the lead somewhat against the run of play through Roberto Carlos, who put in a delightful run, chipping one defender and rounding another, before beating Lemmens with a rare right foot shot which the keeper reached but could not stop. Racing were level two minutes later though, Munitis taking the ball to the right goal line before laying the ball back for Manjarín to slot home. The little Spanish international forward was creating havoc in the Madrid defence, and he was unlucky not to score himself, firstly with a long curling shot which struck the crossbar, and then later on when his shot hit Geremi and bounced out for a corner. Two minutes before half time Racing deservedly took the lead, although the goal itself should not have counted, Vivar Dorado taking Salva's pass a good metre offside. Anelka came on for an obviously disgruntled Savio around half time, and after Salva increased Racing's lead a few minutes later Del Bosque brought on Baljic for Karanka. McManaman pulled one back for Madrid after Lemmens had saved point blank from Morientes following a good cross from Anelka, the Madrid striker face turning from frustration to joy in front of the TV cameras as he realized a little late that the ball was in the net. To Racing's merit they didn't give up attacking, and they were rewarded with a fourth goal after referee Carmona Méndez ruled that Geremi's light contact on Sietes was hard enough for him toward a penalty. 50,000 fans didn't agree (well 44,000, as 6,000 were from Santander), but Salva stepped up to score his tenth penalty of the season to take him clear at the top of the Pichichi goalscorers table with 25 in all in the league. Benítez made three changes to rest weary legs, bringing on Shustikov, Txema and Bestnottomentionhisname, but kept up the pressure to the end. His side took a giant step towards safety, moving six points away from the danger zone. Madrid fell to their first defeat in twelve matches, and fall behind in the race for the championship. They now need to pick themselves up for the Spanish cup semi-final midweek.
Madrid: Espanyol (A), Alavés (H), Betis (A), Valladolid (H)