Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 21 News List

Pride, tragedy mingle as Huelva put paid to Real

SOLDIERING ON Top of the Spanish table Sevilla also beat Deportivo 4-0 in reluctant fixtures after four fans died in a road accident the night before

DPA , MADRID

Real Madrid defender Fabio Cannavaro, right, kicks the ball during their La Liga soccer match against Recreativo de Huelva in Madrid on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AFP

An emotional night in Spain saw Sevilla stretch their lead at the top of La Liga to four points, while Real Madrid crashed at home to modest Recreativo Huelva.

Wednesday's matches were preceded by a minute's silence for the four Huelva supporters who died in a coach crash early on Wednesday while driving overnight to the match in Madrid. Another 17 Huelva fans are still in hospital with injuries of various degrees.

Sevilla thrashed troubled Deportivo Coruna 4-0 to the delight of their fans, who were doubly delighted by Real crashing 3-0 at home.

The results leave Sevilla with 37 points from 16 games, four points more than Barcelona who have played two games less.

Real stay in third position, with 32 points from 16 games.

In addition, Real Madrid donated all of the match takings to the victims of the Huelva accident, and the celebrations for Fabio Cannavaro's FIFA World Player of the Year award were canceled.

Huelva had asked for the match to be suspended, but the Spanish federation turned down the request, claiming that no alternative dates were available.

Under the circumstances, Huelva gave an astonishing performance of pride, passion and concentration.

They took the lead in the 34th minute when Sinama Pongolle broke through a flat defense and scored with a left-foot drive.

Instead of improving in the second half, Real went from bad to worse, and fully deserved the jeers of the Bernabeu.

Seven minutes after the restart, Ikechuckwu Uche made it 2-0 for Huelva after a powerful run down the left. In injury time -- with the Bernabeu applauding Huelva and jeering the Real stars -- Emilio Viquiera added the third from an exquisite free-kick.

Viquiera was quick to dedicate the win to the deceased fans.

"Today has been a very special day for our club," he said, close to tears.

Real defender Michel Salgado admitted that "we were really poor tonight, in every possible way."

Sevilla, meanwhile, were enjoying a pre-Christmas party against ragged Deportivo.

Frederic Kanoute led the rout with two more goals, leaving him at the top of the league scorers' chart with 14. The other goals fell to Luis Fabiano and Daniel Alves.

Most of Wednesday's other games had relegation significance.

Bottom team Gimnastic Tarragona lost 1-0 at home to Betis, who move up to third from bottom. Real Sociedad stay second from bottom after a 0-0 draw in Vigo.

Levante remain fourth from bottom after losing 2-1 away to in-form Osasuna.

Espanyol moved out of trouble with a 1-0 win away to Getafe, and Racing Santander stayed above the danger zone with a 2-1 defeat of dismal Villarreal.

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