First Division - Day 23

Real Madrid 2 - Málaga 1

Real Madrid: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Pavón, Raúl Bravo, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Borja; Figo (Antonio Nuñez 71'), Raúl (Portillo 65'), Zidane; Ronaldo. 4-2-3-1.
Málaga: Calatayud; Rojas (Insúa 65'), Juanito, Fernando Sanz, Josemi, Valcarce; Gerardo, Miguel Angel, Edgar (Manu 76'), Duda (Luque 71'); Salva. 5-4-1.

Team changes: Madrid: Pavón, Raúl Bravo, Roberto Carlos, Borja for Iván Helguera, Mejía, Solari, Guti / Málaga: Calatayud, Juanito, Valcarce, Gerardo, Edgar for Arnau, Litos, Romero, Manu, Insúa.

1-0. 24. Ronaldo. Tap in on far post after Michel Salgado crossed in from right.
2-0. 59. Roberto Carlos. Blasted free kick past defensive wall from edge of area.
2-1. 73. Luque. Ran on to hit shot across Casillas on counter attack.

The race for the league title is hotting up as the top two sides both won on Saturday evening. First placed Real Madrid made it eleven home wins in a row after beating Málaga 2-1, a game which they should have won by a bigger margin but ended up suffering in the final minutes. The visitors had lost their last five games, but Juande Ramos's five man defence held firm until midway through the first half when Beckham found Salgado with a long pass, and the full back crossed across goal for Ronaldo to finish off. Beckham himself had a couple of chances to increase the lead from free kicks, but this time he was unable to find the target.

Ronaldo hit the post early in the second half, and Roberto Carlos made it two a few minutes later when he blasted a cannonball free kick past Calatayud from the edge of the area after Raúl and Figo disrupted the defensive wall. With one eye though on Wednesday night's cup semi-final at Sevilla, Queiroz decided to rest Figo and Raúl, and the side relaxed. It was almost a big mistake, and the Andalucians took advantage to put the pressure on the Madrid goal. Casillas was called upon to save from a Gerardo shot and a Salva header on the follow up, and Salva found substitute Luque soon afterwards for him to beat the keeper and set up a nail biting last twenty minutes for the home fans.