First Division - Day 32

Sevilla 0 - Real Madrid 1

Sevilla: Notario; Juanmi (Gallardo 75'), Prieto (Víctor Salas 46'), Pablo Alfaro, David; Njegus, Javi Navarro, Casquero, Olivera; Reyes, Moisés (Fredi 46'). 4-4-2.
Real Madrid: César; Michel Salgado, Hierro, Pavón, Roberto Carlos; Iván Helguera, Makelele; Zidane (Munitis 80'), Raúl, Solari (McManaman 30'); Morientes (Guti 62'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Sevilla: Javi Navarro for Torrado / Madrid: No change.

0-1. 23. Iván Helguera shot from edge of area which deflected off Makelele's foot.

Real Madrid held on to the top spot after beating Sevilla 0-1 in the Sánchez Pizjuán stadium. It was a hard fought victory in a match which at times went over the top, with referee Pino Zamorano not clamping down on some hard tackling by the home side which left Zidane and Raúl doubtful for next Tuesday's Champions League game in Munich. With Figo still out injured, Solari kept his place on the left of midfield, although he was the first to leave the field of play with only a half an hour gone after twisting his knee, McManaman taking his place and Zidane moving to the left of midfield. Joaquín Caparros had changed his usual formation to include Javi Navarro as a shadow for Zidane, a move which meant the Frenchman was more shackled than usual but which left spaces in midfield. Midway through the first half Iván Helguera took advantage of the extra room to fire in a shot which hit Makelele on the foot to deflect past Notario in to the net. The Sevilla players crowded round the referee claiming that Makelele was standing in an offside position, although television pictures later confirmed that left back David was standing behind the French midfielder and that the goal was valid.

A few minutes after the goal Roberto Carlos came close to adding another when his hard-struck free kick hit the far post and bounced away. Sevilla replied through Javi Navarro, but César was there to turn his shot away for a corner. Caparrós realised that he was losing the battle in midfield and at half time he changed his tactics, pulling Javi Navarro back into defence and bringing on Fredi and Víctor Salas. The introduction of Fredi in particular changed the flow of the game, and after César made another first class save from Njegus, the midfielder hit a free kick against the crossbar. However Fredi blotted his copybook with a bad foul on Raúl, and he was lucky to be let off with only a yellow card, as was Juanmi, who crashed into Zidane from behind a few minutes later. In the final few minutes Del Bosque pulled his men back to defend their lead, and César was forced to make another full stretch save as substitute Gallardo sent a header goalwards. There was no time left, and Madrid took a valuable three points to keep them ahead of Valencia on goal average, but more importantly to open up a gap on the chasing teams. Sevilla stay in twelfth place having failed to score now in their last four games. They are safe for now, five points above the relegation spots, although they need to start picking up a few points soon if they are to avoid getting embroiled in the fight to avoid the drop.