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Barca held at home, Real ekes out a win
by Ian Plenderleith, November 24th, 2008 7AM
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[SPAIN] Barcelona's nine-game winning streak ended when it stumbled at home to Getafe, relying on a second-half equalizer to gain it a point. Real Madrid squeezed out a 1-0 home win over last-place Recreativo Huelva thanks to a wonder-strike from Wesley Sneijder.

Getafe took a first-half lead on a cleverly placed strike from Manu del Moral at Barcelona, which was without the injured Lionel Messi. Only a goal from Malian midfielder Seydou Keita 20 minutes from time spared the home team's blushes, although Barca also struck the crossbar twice.

Coach Pep Guardiola was nonetheless happy with both the team's effort and the performance. "Maybe we rushed things a bit in the last third and we didn't quite get the final pass or cross right," he said. "But we dominated the game, especially in the second half. Getafe is a good team with excellent players." He also thanked the home fans for applauding his team at the game's end.

At the Bernabeu, Real weathered a couple of early Recreativo Huelva chances before settling down for a narrow win thanks to a cracking goal from Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder just before halftime. But nine-goal striker Gonzalo Higuain joined the team's extensive injury list ahead of Tuesday's important Champions League game in Belarus at BATE Borisov.

"The result was important, although I think we still came up a little short because we had some great chances," said coach Bernd Schuster. Sporting director Pedrag Mijatovic added: "The three points are the most important thing and they will help give us calm." It's a strange season in La Liga when Real, in second place, is expressing such relief at a 1-0 home victory over the bottom club.

They were helped by Villarreal suffering its first defeat of the season, something it managed in style by going down, 3-0, at home to Real Valladolid. MidfielderJonathan Sesma scored twice, and defender Luis Prietoadded the third, all before halftime, as Valladolid lifted itself to ninth. Villareal's U.S. striker Jozy Altidore did not suit up for the game after playing against Guatemala on Wednesday night in Colorado. Villarreal hung on to third spot ahead of Valencia (which tied 0-0 at fifth-place Sevilla in a disappointing game), and must now recover in time to host Manchester United on Tuesday in the Champions League.

Spain's fourth Champions League participant, Atletico Madrid, dropped points at struggling Numancia when Diego Forlan's first-half goal, his sixth of the season, was canceled out by a 95th-minute penalty converted by Jose Barkero. Atletico is sixth, level on points with Deportivo La Coruna, which topped Athletic Bilbao (third from bottom) 3-1. Osasuna moved off the bottom by beating Almeria for its first win of the season, while Racing Santander helped itself to a 3-0 home victory over Espanyol.

Goals scored weekend Nov. 22-23:26 in 10 games (2.6 per game)
Goals scored season 2008-09:337 in 120 games (2.81 per game)


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