First Division - Day 23

Real Madrid 3 - Valladolid 1

Real Madrid: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Pavón, Iván Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Makelele, Cambiasso; McManaman (Miñambres 61'), Guti (Solari 74'), Raúl; Ronaldo (Portillo 88'). 4-2-3-1.
Valladolid: Bizzarri; Torres Gómez, Mustafá, Peña, Oscar Sánchez; Colsa, Jesús (Caminero 70'); Fernando Sales, Oscar González (Olivera 77'), Chema; Pachón (Ciric 70'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Madrid: Cambiasso, McManaman, Guti for Flavio Conceiçao, Figo, Zidane / Valladolid: Oscar Sánchez, Pachón for Marcos, Aganzo.

0-1. 10. Fernando Sales. Headed past Casillas from Torres Gómez cross.
1-1. 19. Roberto Carlos. Cracked free kick through defensive wall.
2-1. 21. Ronaldo. Took deep pass from Guti and hit shot past Bizzarri.
3-1. 90. Portillo. From close up after Roberto Carlos cross deflected off defender.

Real Madrid threw down the gauntlet to Real Sociedad, moving to the top of the table for 24 hours at least after beating Valladolid 3-1 on Saturday night. It was not the easiest of victories though, and Del Bosque's side had to come from behind after Fernando Sales headed a Torres Gómez cross past Casillas in the tenth minute. Casillas made a vital save from an Oscar header a couple of minutes later to stop the visitors going further ahead, but with Madrid reeling against the ropes, Roberto Carlos put them back in the game with a thunderous free kick which breached the defensive wall and went past Bizzarri before he had time to react. Two minutes later the European champions were in front, Ronaldo running on to Guti's through ball to blast a first time shot round the keeper and in to the top corner of the net.

Without the suspended Figo and the rested Zidane they were unable to create any further danger though, and Pachón (replacing the on-loan Aganzo who was not allowed to play by Real Madrid) should have equalised in the second half when free in front of goal after Casillas could only parry Colsa's free kick. Raúl put a clever chip just over the bar, and Ciric shot into the side netting at the other end as Valladolid came looking for the equaliser. With Morientes left out of the squad after his bust up with the manager mid-week, Del Bosque turned to Portillo for the last couple of minutes, and it only took him a minute to add his name to the scorecard, hooking the ball past Bizzarri after the defence failed to clear a Roberto Carlos cross. Madrid move a point ahead of Real Sociedad pending their Sunday game against Osasuna, and with a superior goal difference, the Basques will have to win to hold on to top spot.