Tue, May 08, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Madrid leapfrogs Sevilla into second

CRUCIAL WIN Fabio Capello's side turned up the heat on leaders Barcelona after goals from Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Robinho moved them to within two points of the top

AFP , MADRID AND BERLIN

Real Madrid midfielder David Beckham, top, celebrates with teammates Sergio Ramos, left, and Guti after his team's winning goal against Sevilla during their Spanish First Division match at the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on Sunday.

PHOTO: EPA

Real Madrid took over from Sevilla as the nearest rivals to league leaders Barcelona when they beat their fellow championship contenders 3-2 in a thrilling game on Sunday.

Barcelona now have a two point lead over their eternal rivals after beating Real Sociedad 2-0 on Saturday with Sevilla two points further back in third.

"I told you that this team was recovering it's spirit, now you can see it for yourselves," Real coach Fabio Capello told journalists at the post-game press conference.

"The first half was good in itself but in the second half we had quality, speed, determination. It was very, very good," added the delighted Italian.

Sevilla were 1-0 ahead at half time after Enzo Maresca hammered an almost unstoppable left foot volley into the corner of the net five minutes before the break.

Real got back on level terms after 62 minutes when an inch-perfect long pass by Jose Maria Gutierrez out of his own area sent Ruud van Nistelrooy clear for his 20th goal of the season.

"Guti's been decisive in the last three games, each time when he's come on as a second half substitute," acknowledged Capello.

Robinho put Real ahead with 12 minutes to go, following another outstanding pass from Guti but the Brazilian's extravagant celebrations lead to two absurd yellow cards in a matter of seconds to leave the home side a man down.

However, Sevilla were to have one of their own men dismissed within three minutes when Aitor Ocio saw red after a clumsy challenge on Mahamadou Diarra.

Van Nistelrooy then clinched three points with a header five minutes from the whistle although a lack of concentration allowed Uruguayan striker Ernesto Chevanton to get one back for Sevilla three minutes into injury time.

"I don't think we've lost the league, just an important opportunity to beat a direct rival," reflected Sevilla coach Juande Ramos.

BREMEN STILL ALIVE

Werder Bremen thrashed 10-man Hertha Berlin 4-1 on Sunday to keep alive their faint hopes of winning the German league title, though that would require both Schalke 04 and VfB Stuttgart to slip up.

Markus Rosenberg notched a hat-trick for Bremen and Brazilian playmaker Diego netted the other as they bounced back from the UEFA Cup semi-final exit at the hands of Espanyol on Thursday.

Werder were helped however by the sending off of Croatian Josip Simunic in the first half.

With just two matches left, three teams could still win the title -- leaders Schalke 04 on 65 points, second-placed Stuttgart on 64 and Bremen on 63.

Kevin Kuranyi kept Schalke 04 on course for a first Bundesliga crown since 1958 with the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Nuremberg on Saturday.

Stuttgart, however, are keeping close to the German league leaders, a 2-0 victory over Mainz 05 leaving them just a point adrift and well on target for automatic qualification for the Champions League group stages.

Bayern Munich meanwhile could only draw 1-1 at relegation-bound Borussia Monchengladbach, that result leaving the reigning champions in fourth spot, which would prove enough for UEFA Cup football next season, 11 points behind Schalke.

Schalke, who have topped the table for the last 12 rounds of matches, had to wait till the 64th minute to find the net through Kuranyi as they look for their first title in almost half a century, though they came close in both 2001 and 2005.

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