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Real draw against Valencia
Simon Baskett | February 16, 2004 11:37 IST
Spanish Primera Liga leaders Real Madrid scraped a 1-1 draw at home to Valencia on Sunday when Luis Figo converted a controversial injury-time penalty in an intense top-of-the-table clash.
Real's late equaliser kept them two points clear of Valencia on 53 points from 24 games with third-placed Deportivo Coruna a further two points behind after a 2-0 win at home to Osasuna.
Valencia had looked on course for victory at the Bernabeu after defender Roberto Ayala put them ahead with a bullet header from a corner 15 minutes from time.
But Figo levelled from the spot three minutes into injury time after Raul went down as he challenged Valencia defender Carlos Marchena for the ball inside the area.
The result meant Real dropped their first home points of the season but Valencia will be left ruing a missed opportunity to dislodge the champions from the top of the standings.
"I don't think we robbed them because we didn't deserve to lose," Real midfielder David Beckham told reporters.
"They got the goal but we kept battling until the end. I'm not sure whether it was a penalty...but we're happy with the result."
Third-placed Deportivo kept the pressure on the leading duo with an efficient win against Osasuna, midfielder Victor scoring both goals in the first half.
Barcelona continued their fine run of form with their fifth win in sixth games and consolidated their fourth position in the table with an impressive 3-1 victory at home to Atletico Madrid.
Valencia put Real under intense pressure in the opening minutes as they closed them down in midfield and then looked to attack on the break.
But Real weathered the early storm and put together some slick passing moves as they probed for gaps in the Valencia defence.
Keeper Santiago Canizares had to react quickly to close down Raul when the Real striker darted into the area on seven minutes and then produced a brilliant diving save to turn a bullet shot from defender Michel Salgado round the post.
Valencia responded as leading striker Mista went close with an acrobatic angled volley and winger Vicente blazed wide after a neat assist from Pablo Aimar midway through the half.
The quicksilver Aimar slipped past the Real defence late in the half only to be bundled over by Salgado as he neared the area but midfielder Ruben Baraja could only curl the resulting free kick over the bar.
Real were also unable to make anything from a string of free kicks around the area and Beckham and Roberto Carlos were both well off target with their efforts.
Canizares produced another sharp save to snatch the ball from Raul's feet as the striker looked certain to net a Roberto Carlos cross just before the break.
The match remained on a knife edge in the second half but it was Valencia who broke the deadlock when Ayala outjumped Ivan Helguera after a corner to power a header past Iker Casillas.
The game looked all but over until Raul went down in the area as he tussled with Marchena and the referee pointed to the spot, Figo sending Canizares the wrong way with the penalty.
Both of Real's central midfielders Beckham and Guti picked up their fifth yellow cards of the season and will miss next week's match away to Espanyol.
There were goals galore in the rest of Sunday's games, with Villarreal recording their highest ever score in the top flight with a thrilling 6-3 win over Racing Santander and Malaga ending a six-match losing run with the 5-2 thrashing of lowly Espanyol.