Guti, Raul lead Madrid over Espanyol 2-0
Substitute Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez and Raul Gonzalez notched second-half goals to lead Real Madrid over Espanyol 2-0 for the Spanish champion's 10th straight league victory on Saturday.Updated: Mar 01, 2009 10:10 IST
Substitute Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez and Raul Gonzalez notched second-half goals to lead Real Madrid over Espanyol 2-0 for the Spanish champion's 10th straight league victory on Saturday.
The win moved Madrid to within four points of leader Barcelona, which looks to snap a three-game winless streak at Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
Guti, who replaced Wesley Sneijder in the 59th minute, curled a left-footed shot over the defensive wall in the 67th, the ball bouncing off the left post and back off goalkeeper Carlos Kameni before landing in goal.
Raul's 14th goal of the season came from nearly the identical spot at the edge of the area in the 72nd after turning in Marcelo's pass after the Brazil player's smart run.
Barcelona leads the league with 60 points, followed by Madrid with 56, Sevilla 47 and Villarreal 41.
Earlier, Frederic Kanoute scored twice as Sevilla beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in a preview of an upcoming Copa del Rey semifinal. An Athletic mistake in the 39th minute allowed Aquivaldo Mosquera to cross to Kanoute, who controlled the high pass, held off his marker and volleyed the bouncing ball in with his right foot. The Mali striker, who threatened twice early in the second half, then controlled Ndri Romaric's cross in the 58th and after creating space sent a low shot inside the left post for his 10th goal of the season.
Igor Gabilonda had given Athletic the lead in the 26th. The two clubs play the return leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal at San Mames on Wednesday, with Sevilla holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg.
Espanyol was the better team offensively until Guti's opener and had the best first half chance in the sixth minute but goalkeeper Iker Casillas got his hands up quickly to keep out Luis Garcia's flicked-on free kick.
Espanyol, coming off its first victory at Barcelona's Camp Nou for 27 years, continued to threaten with Ivan de la Pena forcing Casillas into a save in the 56th.
Madrid failed to create any danger in the Espanyol area through the first hour just as it hadn't in a midweek 1-0 Champions League loss to Liverpool.
Madrid coach Juande Ramos brought on offensive midfielders Guti and Marcelo in a bid to kickstart the Spanish champion's flagging offense, and the two longtime Madrid players, who both announced this week that they would be retiring from Madrid in 2011, produced quick results at Lluis Companys Stadium.
Espanyol stayed 19th with 21 points, three from salvation. At Bilbao, Athletic coach Joaquin Caparros rested key regulars like Spain striker Fernando Llorente, midfielder Javi Martinez and goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz with the cup match in mind. Counterpart Manolo Jimenez went with a full strength squad as Sevilla strengthened its hold on third place.
Kanoute paced Sevilla after his opening goal and nearly scored in the 47th but shot wide. Goalkeeper Armando Ribeiro then denied the Mali striker's dangerous rising shot in the 54th. Kanoute was substituted for Lautaro Acosta in the 66th. Gaizka Toquero broke clear on goal in the 89th but Andres Palop made a reaction save with his left leg to preserve the victory and keep Athletic in ninth with 31 points.
On Sunday, it's: Malaga vs. Recreativo Huelva; Almeria vs. Getafe; Racing Santander vs. Osasuna; Numancia vs. Deportivo La Coruna; Sporting Gijon vs. Mallorca; Valencia vs. Valladolid; and Real Betis vs. Villarreal.