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Real match abandoned after bomb threat

December 13, 2004 10:43 IST

Real Madrid's Spanish Primera Liga match against Real Sociedad was abandoned on Sunday with the scores level at 1-1 after police received a warning that a bomb would explode at the stadium at 2000 GMT.

Close to 70,000 fans together with players and officials from both clubs evacuated the Bernabeu stadium a short time after Basque newspaper Gara had received the warning phone call in the name of the Basque separatist group ETA.

Police searched the stadium with sniffer dogs but no explosive device was found in the vicinity of the stadium.

"The police have said they have completed their search and have not found anything," Real Madrid president Florentino Perez told reporters.

"The best thing we can all do now is to put this nightmare behind us."

"The police said the threat was a credible one and that's why we decided to evacuate the stadium a quarter of an hour before the deadline. The evacuation plan worked to perfection."

Spanish football authorities will hold a meeting on Monday to decide if the remaining three minutes of the game will be played at a later date or if the result will be allowed to stand.

If the result remains at 1-1, Real will have dropped to fourth place in the standings, 11 points behind leaders Barcelona, who snatched a late 2-1 win at Albacete on Saturday.

Household names including David Beckham, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Michael Owen were all on the pitch at the time the match against the Basque side was abandoned.

The players left the stadium in their kit and had to wait in the street before being allowed to return when the police had given the all-clear.

ETA has targeted the Bernabeu stadium before.

In May 2002, an ETA car bomb exploded nearby hours before a European Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Barcelona and 17 people were treated for shock or slight injuries.

ETA had warned of that attack in a call to Gara.


On Sunday Real took the lead just before the break when Brazilian striker Ronaldo cracked home with his left foot after controlling a Michel Salgado cross with his chest.

Sociedad levelled the match midway through the second half when Turkish striker Nihat Kahveci smashed home with an acrobatic finish.

Catalans Espanyol moved into second place in the league after giving an assured performance in their 2-1 victory at home to struggling Real Mallorca.

Argentine defender Mauricio Pochettino gave Espanyol the lead when he headed in from a corner in the first half and midfielder Oscar Serrano made it 2-0 eight minutes later when he smashed in after Ivan de la Pena had hit the bar after a brilliant solo run.

Earlier Valencia had put their European woes behind them to notch their fourth Primera Liga win in a row with a 1-0 victory at home to basement side Numancia.

Centre-half Carlos Marchena scored the winner on 21 minutes when he headed in from point-blank range at the far post after Numancia keeper had palmed a Vicente free kick off the line.

The win put Claudio Ranieri's side -- who exited the Champions League midweek -- into third spot in the table, 10 points behind Barca.

Sociedad, who beat Real Madrid 4-1 at the end of last season, dominated the first half at the Bernabeu, but they sparked into life on the half hour.


Ronaldo had looked certain to score when Sociedad keeper Asier Riesgo found himself stranded outside his area after he raced to clear the ball, but the Brazilian rushed his shot and fired the ball over the bar.

He made no mistake, though, when he was given another chance two minutes later after Salgado had clipped a fine cross into the heart of the area.

Controlling the ball with his chest he took a step back as the ball dropped and then fired home with his left foot.

Real had several good chances to extend their lead at the start of the second half, Zinedine Zidane forcing a fine save from Asier Riesgo when he shot on the half-volley and Beckham going close with a free kick.

But it was Sociedad who found the net midway through the half when striker Darko Kovacevic nodded the ball down to Nihat who smashed home with a spectacular right-foot finish.

Simon Baskett in Madrid
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