Tue, Jan 27, 2009 - Page 7 News List

LFP : Real cut Barcelona advantage as Raul closes in on record

AFP , MADRID

Real Madrid’s iconic captain Raul moved to just one goal from equalling Alfredo di Stefano’s club goalscoring record as Real cut Barcelona’s lead at the top to 12 points with a 1-0 home win over Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.

Raul appeared to use his ear to glance home Lassana Diarra’s fierce 39th minute cross for his 306th goal in the famous white shirt, leaving him just one goal behind di Stefano.

Raul, 31, was taken off 20 minutes from the end as coach Juande Ramos put the team first so the former Spain international will have to wait until next week to try and get the goal.

Real moved three points clear of third-placed Sevilla, who lost 2-0 against Racing Santander, as they enacted revenge for their opening 2-1 defeat to Depor at the Riazor Stadium.

It was a fifth straight win for Ramos who has had to deal with the speculation that Arsene Wenger could replace him at the end of the season.

Ramos has a six-month deal but presidential candidate Florentino Perez has stirred trouble by claiming he would bring Arsenal’s French manager Wenger to the Santiago Bernabeu if elected.

“We just have to concentrate on fulfilling our part by winning and wait and see what happens,” former Sevilla and Tottenham boss Ramos said. “It is a long season and a lot can happen.”

Barcelona have also been irked by suggestions that Real could break the bank to sign their Argentine star Lionel Messi who scored twice in the 4-1 win over Numancia on Saturday.

“I’ll never leave Barca,” Messi said. “I’ll only leave if they throw me out. Barcelona is my home.”

Despite playing against ten men for close to an hour Sevilla fell to a surprise 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Racing Santander.

Towering Serbian striker Nikola Zigic, was the main danger and scored the crucial second goal at the beginning of the second half.

Meanwhile, strugglers Mallorca shocked Valencia with a 3-1 win on Sunday with Jose Jurado netting a brace.

Valencia coach Unai Emery, whose side stay four points behind Sevilla, accepted blame for the defeat saying it was his darkest hour since taking charge in the summer.

“This is my most painful day as coach,” Emery said. “I am to blame for the defeat. It was my fault.”

Mallorca moved off the bottom of the table with the win and Osasuna replaced them.

Atletico Madrid are still yet to win this year after a 1-1 draw at Malaga who had won four out of their last five games in the league.

Elsewhere Espanyol’s third coach this season, Mauricio Pochettino, saw his side draw 1-1 with Valladolid in his first match in charge.

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