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Madrid's dirty derby (VIDEO)
by Ian Plenderleith, October 20th, 2008 7AM



[SPAIN] Barcelona and Real Madrid are both still out of the Champions League qualifying spots, but after narrow road victories this weekend they're lurking in fourth and fifth place respectively. Valencia won convincingly at home to stay top.

The Madrid derby was a classic in the sense that it was packed with drama and incident, if not a great deal of beautiful soccer. Most of that was confined to the first minute, when Ruud van Nistelrooy swept in a lovely shot from 25 yards from an almost standing position to open the scoring for Real, and the last minute, when Simao equalized for Atletico with a sublime free-kick clipped over the Real wall and into the bottom corner.

In between there was plenty of foul play and a number of cards of both colors. Atletico's Colombian midfielder Luis Perea saw his second yellow in just the 31st minute for needlessly elbowing an opponent, while van Nistelrooy saw a straight red nine minutes later for taking out an Atletico player with a tackle several weeks too late. The goalscorer had been subject to some rough treatment, and was possibly just venting his frustration.

Simao's late free-kick wasn't the end of the matter. Seven minutes into stoppage time, Gonzalo Higuain converted an inarguable penalty kick to win the game for Real, 2-1. "The team proved that it can change the course of a match in its waning moments, but we could have won it a lot earlier," claimed Real coach Bernd Schuster. "There were some decisions taken to offset others," he added, implying that van Nistelrooy's red card was a make-up call, "but we overcame those challenges, which is typical of this team."

A Samuel Eto'o effort just past the hour sufficed to give a Barcelona side resting Leo Messi three points at Athletic Bilbao, 1-0. It was the Catalan side's fifth win in succession. David Villa scored twice in Valencia's 4-0 home win over Numancia, giving him eight for the season.

Elsewhere, second-placed Sevilla edged Almeira, 1-0, on the road through a second-half Adriano goal. Third-place Villarreal was held to a goalless tie at Espanyol, but was happy with a point thanks to a penalty save from goalkeeper Diego Lopez. Jozy Altidore made a cameo appearance for the final 11 minutes but couldn't change the scoreboard.

HIGHLIGHT (VIDEO): Damia Abella Perez's second-minute goal for Real Betis in its 3-0 home win over Mallorca. The player controlled a long mid-air pass with one touch, in the same move taking it forward into the penalty area for a right-footed slam-finish.

Valencia 7 6 1 0 17 4 19
Sevilla 7 5 2 0 13 4 17
Villarreal 7 5 2 0 9 3 17
Barcelona 7 5 1 1 19 7 16
Real Madrid 7 5 1 1 20 10 16
Almeria 7 3 2 2 9 8 11
Malaga 7 3 1 3 8 9 10
Atl. Madrid 7 3 0 4 13 12 9
Getafe 7 2 3 2 8 8 9
Espanyol 7 2 3 2 6 7 9
Dep. Coruna 7 2 3 2 6 7 9
Real Mallorca 7 2 2 3 5 10 8
Valladolid 7 2 1 4 6 8 7
Racing Santander 7 1 3 3 4 8 6
Sporting Gijon 7 2 0 5 10 21 6
Real Betis 7 1 2 4 7 8 5
Athletic Bilbao 7 1 2 4 4 10 5
Rec. Huelva 7 1 2 4 3 12 5
Osasuna 7 0 4 3 3 6 4
Numancia 7 1 1 5 5 13 4



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