|First Division - Day 16|
Racing Santander 2 - Real Madrid 3
Racing: Dudu Aouate;
Oriol (Juanma 71'), Moratón, Bertín; Pedro López,
Matabuena, Nafti (Parri 76'); Morán, Benayoun, Regueiro (Cristian
Alvarez 83'); Javi Guerrero. 3-3-3-1.
Team changes: Racing: Oriol, Anderson Silva for Oscar Lozano, Matabuena / Madrid: Raúl Bravo, Javi García, Owen for Roberto Carlos, Beckham, Ronaldo.
Real Madrid came from behind twice to beat Racing Santander 2-3, an injury time goal from Zidane giving them all three points. The Cantabrians had only lost once at home all season before this match, and they took the lead midway through the first half when an active Benayoun headed the ball past Casillas after Oriol laid back Morán's free kick.
García Remón was missing the injured Ronaldo, and left Roberto Carlos and Beckham on the bench as neither had fully recovered from knocks. But two of their replacements combined to level the scores, youngster Javi García heading back Zidane's corner for Owen to climb above two defenders and steer the ball wide of Aouate. And Owen could have given his side the lead a few minutes later when he ghosted past the defence only for the keeper to block his shot at point blank range.
Racing were playing the better football though, with Benayoun testing Casillas a couple more times in the first half, and the Israeli international set up Javi Guerrero for him to restore the lead just six minutes in to the second half. Raúl came close to equalising when Aouate turned his shot over the bar, but the keeper could do nothing a couple of minutes later when the striker turned the ball past him from close up after Samuel headed back Figo's cross.
After that it was end to end stuff, with Casillas keeping out Javi Guererro and Regueiro, and somehow getting a hand to tip a long shot from Nafti over the bar, and Raúl setting up Owen to score only for the strike to be ruled out after the England striker appeared to control the ball with his upper arm. But García Remón finally brought on Morientes, and with everybody expecting a draw, the forgotten man rose to head back a corner for Zidane to redirect the ball into the net from close up.
The result means that Madrid close the gap on Barcelona to ten points with a game in hand, but it was still not the sort of performance that was expected of them. President Florentino Pérez is reportedly going to take action in the next few days to try and improve things, with Arrigo Sacchi tipped to take over as director of football and García Remón to be placed under his direct orders. On this showing, he has a lot of work to do.