First Division - Day 36

Racing Santander 2 - Real Madrid 3

Racing: Dudu Aouate; Pinillos, Oriol, Moratón, Ayoze; Casquero (Matabuena 46'), Vitolo, Damià (Juanjo 74'), Felipe Melo, Oscar Serrano (Antonio Tomás 78'); Antoñito. 4-2-3-1.
Madrid: Diego López; Michel Salgado, Mejía, Sergio Ramos, Roberto Carlos; Guti, Pablo García (De la Red 74'); Beckham (Cicinho 81'), Raúl, Robinho; Soldado (Zidane 69'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Racing: Felipe Melo for Pablo Alfaro / Madrid: Diego López, Soldado for Casillas, Baptista.

0-1. 33. Roberto Carlos (penalty). After Robinho tripped by Pinillos inside area.
0-2. 60. Soldado. Got on end of Raúl's shot to turn ball in from close to goal.
0-3. 70. Robinho. Turned on pass from Guti to fire low shot wide of keeper.
1-3. 76. Matabuena. Drove ball past Diego López after Melo headed back corner.
2-3. 91. Matabuena. Forced ball over line after defence failed to clear free kick.

Real Madrid overcame Racing in El Sardinero in spite of a long list of first team absentees. Following a cluster of early bookings the match settled down to a pace that was almost like a training game at times, although both sides had plenty to play for.

In the first quarter Pablo Garcia curled a free kick a yard wide before Robinho picked out Raúl who was halted by an offside flag. Soldado and Raúl both fired over after fine build up play. Beckham's free kick then found Ramos who might have done better than head over. It was no great surprise then, when the visitors took the lead just after the half hour. Roberto Carlos scoring from the spot after Robinho was held in the box.

There was little to get excited about for the home fans. Racing's best chance of the half came five minutes from the break when Felipe Melo sent a header across goal from Serrano's cross but the ball was held by Diego López who was standing in for the suspended Casillas.

The second half began in pedestrian fashion until Roberto Carlos burst into the box and forced Aouate to come off his line but the keeper could only scoop the ball into the path of Raúl. The striker composed himself before firing the ball across goal where Soldado was lurking in true poacher style to tap in number two. The second division's top scorer was enjoying a rare run out at the top level due to the absence of a trio of first team strikers. Cassano was suffering from a flu bug and Ronaldo and Baptista were also unavailable.

Racing tried to reply immediately, with Oscar Serrano's 25 yarder haring past Lopez left hand post. But it looked all but over when Gutí set up Robinho who rifled a shot on the turn past Aouate.

Incredibly, the home side could still have taken something form the game. Antonito was sent clean through on goal but Diego López stood up well to block. Matabuena gave his side some hope after the ball fell for him when Serrano's corner was headed back across goal. Racing were suddenly singing in the El Sardinero rain. In fact, the visitors might have been really under the weather had either Melo or Juanjo converted great chances with ten minutes still on the clock. But by the time Matabuena got a second goal after a game of pinball in the Madrid penalty area it was a case of too little too late.

Real Madrid had only to hold on for three minutes of injury time while Racing must be ruing those glaring misses which might have earned them an unlikely and crucial point. The Cantabrians are only one point above the drop zone with two matches remaining.