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Real chasing Barca after Almeria draw

sports Updated: Nov 03, 2008 09:46 IST

AFP
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Reigning champions Real Madrid lost ground on league leaders Barcelona after dropping two points in a 1-1 draw with Almeria.

Argentine Pablo Piatti equalised with nine minutes left to deny Real victory after captain Raul Gonzalez had put them ahead shortly before half-time with his fifth goal of the season yesterday.

Real now sit third two points behind Barcelona who crushed Malaga 4-1 on Saturday to record their seventh successive league win.

"The draw is okay but we feel that we have dropped two points," said Real coach Bernd Schuster.

"We have the quality to finish off games and had some counter attacks that we didn't take full advantage of. I was happy with the attitude of the team but we failed to get the second goal and that proved decisive."

Valencia are level on 20 points with Real while Villarreal are a point ahead in second after a 4-1 rout of Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Real's next match is at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday when they host Juventus in the Champions League and Schuster will hope for better defensive concentration.

Real were without Dutch forward Ruud van Nistelrooy, struggling with a knee injury, and Spanish international Ruben de la Red, 23, who was still in shock after collapsing and fainting on the pitch during Real's midweek cup game.

Sergio Ramos was back in the starting line-up after making up with Schuster who dropped him last weekend for critical comments he made in a newspaper interview.

Under Unai Emery, now coach at Valencia, Almeria had beaten Real 2-0 in the corresponding fixture last season so Real knew what to expect.