First Division - Day 31

Sevilla 1 - Real Madrid 3

Sevilla: Notario; Redondo, Oscar, Pablo Alfaro, Juanmi; Casquero, Torrado (Víctor Salas 58'); Gallardo, Reyes, Fredi (Daniel Alvés 62'); Antoñito (Machlas 70'). 4-2-3-1.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Miñambres, Hierro, Iván Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Makelele, Guti (Solari 88'); Figo (Cambiasso 81'), Zidane, McManaman; Ronaldo (Morientes 75'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Sevilla: Redondo, Oscar, Juanmi, Reyes, Antoñito for Njegus, Javi Navarro, David, Víctor Salas, Machlas / Madrid: Miñambres, McManaman, Guti for Michel Salgado, Flavio Conceiçao, Raúl.

0-1. 24. Iván Helguera. Far post header after Zidane chipped ball across goal.
1-1. 40. Gallardo. Header from close up after Reyes floated ball across.
1-2. 54. Zidane. Controlled pass from Guti and fired low shot under keeper.
1-3. 87. Morientes. Forced ball in on far post after Cambiasso crossed from left.

Real Madrid moved four points clear at the top of the table after beating Sevilla 1-3 on Sunday night. The locals switched the match to the Cartuja Olympic stadium to enable a bigger crowd to attend, although the decision backfired as their players were unable to find their feet on an unfamiliar and badly cut up pitch. Madrid were playing their first league match without Raúl, who had undergone an appendicitis operation midweek, and with the exception of the suspended Michel Salgado, Del Bosque decided to stick with the same side which played Manchester United only three days before. There was a tactical change however, Guti taking over Flavio's role in central midfield and McManaman switching to the left wing, allowing Zidane to roam free behind Ronaldo. Sevilla were missing three of their first choice back four, with Njegus, Javi Navarro and David all suspended, Oscar coming in for Navarro and doing a good job marking Ronaldo.

The change of position of Guti and Zidane proved to be crucial to Madrid's success, Guti adding a new dimension to midfield and Zidane instrumental in two of their goals. The French star got through on the right of the area midway through the first half to chip the ball across for Helguera to head home on the far post, and after Sevilla had equalised, collected Guti's through ball to restore the lead. It was not all Madrid though, and after Helguera's goal the Andalucians came back, with Torrado and Casquero going close before Reyes took advantage of a lapse of concentration in the visiting defence to win the ball back near to goal and cross back for Gallardo to score.

Caparrós didn't give up though, and after falling behind for the second time he made three attacking changes, bringing on Víctor Salas, Daniel Alves and Machlas. Casillas made an excellent save, tipping Daniel's shot against the bar before Del Bosque finally allowed some of his tired players to rest. And three minutes from the end two of his fresh players combined to score a third, Cambiasso battling to win the ball on the left of goal to cross in for Morientes to finish off. Defeats for Real Sociedad and Deportivo mean that Madrid open up a big gap again, and on this form they could be on their way to a league and European cup double for the first time since 1958.