Mon, Sep 25, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Diarra header powers Real to victory

AP , MADRID

Mahamadou Diarra's sixth-minute header gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Real Betis on Saturday and sent the powerhouse to the top of the Spanish league.

Diarra's goal in an untidy and ill-tempered fourth-round game at Betis' Manuel Ruiz de Lopera stadium was his first since his 26 million euro (US$33.2 million) move from Lyon last month. The Mali midfielder scored from the six-yard box when he met Jose Antonio Reyes' cross from the right.

Madrid leads with 10 points, one more than Sevilla, FC Barcelona and Valencia. Deportivo La Coruna is next with seven.

Madrid's three pursuers were due to play yesterday with Barcelona hosting Valencia, and Sevilla visiting Atletico Madrid.

Madrid played the first 67 minutes without David Beckham, who was dropped for the second straight match for the first time since he joined the club in 2003. The former England captain then replaced Reyes. Captain Raul Gonzalez also began the game on the substitutes' bench before appearing on the hour.

Madrid's victory was marred by an injury to right back Cicinho in the 29th minute. The Brazilian, who was in the team as a replacement for Michel Salgado, was carried off the field in pain after appearing to twist his right knee.

News reports said Cicinho may have torn a ligament, which would sideline him for at least six months.

Left back Roberto Carlos, making his 500th appearance for Madrid, also left on a stretcher in injury time, several minutes after being cut on the head by Betis' central defender Juanito Gutierrez.

Seconds later, Betis other central defender Nano Rivas was ejected for elbowing Diarra as the pair jumped for the ball.

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