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Brazilians keep Real top in Spain

Kevin Fylan | February 08, 2004 15:15 IST

Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos struck to give Real Madrid a 2-1 win at home to Malaga on Saturday and keep the defending champions two points clear of in-form Valencia.

Real were briefly knocked off the top of the Spanish Primera Liga with Valencia's easy 3-0 home win over Atletico Madrid in an early game on Saturday.

The result left Real needing to extend their perfect home league record, a challenge they met with far more trouble than expected.

Malaga, beaten 6-1 by Valencia last weekend, fell behind in the 25th minute when Ronaldo turned in a Michel Salgado cross for his 19th league goal of the season.

Roberto Carlos made it 2-0 with a cracking free kick just before the hour mark but Jose Juan Luque got Malaga back into the game with a well timed run and shot 15 minutes from the end.

Real had a few nervous moments but held on for a victory that keeps them top with 52 points from 23 matches.

Valencia's win, featuring two goals from Mista and an outstanding long-range strike from Vicente, left them in second spot.

Deportivo Coruna, in third with 43 points and fighting to stay in the title race, are away to Albacete on Sunday.

Atletico stayed fourth on 36 points but the race for the final Champions League qualification slot will come under the spotlight on Sunday when fifth-placed Barcelona, two points back, travel to meet sixth-placed Osasuna.


Valencia's victory made it nine goals in two games, following their success against Malaga last weekend.

They might easily have racked up half a dozen again, as an Atletico side missing Fernando Torres turned in arguably their worst performance of the season.

Vicente set up the opener for Mista, floating over a corner from the left for the striker to head back across keeper Sergio Aragoneses and in.

Sergi's second yellow card and Vicente's classy goal after 65 minutes settled the game. The Spanish international midfielder brought the ball in from the left win, glanced up and swept over Aragoneses and into the top right-hand corner.

Mista's second followed soon afterwards following a smart cross from Miguel Angel Angulo and Ruben Baraja had a close-range blast ruled out for a marginal offside five minutes later.

Real Madrid looked set for an equally convincing win as they took a deserved 2-0 lead.

David Beckham helped set up the opener, his astute pass out right giving Salgado space to provide a simple low cross for Ronaldo.

Beckham missed with three good chances from free kicks and when the fourth opportunity came Roberto Carlos relieved the England midfielder of the responsibility and scored with a low blast.

"We scored our two goals but then maybe relaxed too much," said Beckham. "They had nothing to lose so they pushed players forward and got the goal."

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