3. SPAIN: Beckham sees red

David Beckham continues to dominate the headlines in Spain.

Last week it was for scoring on a free kick in his return to the Real Madrid starting lineup a month after being banished from the first team.

On Saturday, Beckham made news for being sent off in Real Madrid's 0-0 tie with Real Betis. Beckham's ejection came in the dying minutes of the game when he thought he was fouled in the Betis penalty area, and when he didn't get the call, he swung wildly with his right foot at Real Betis defender Jose Isidoro for the fifth ejection of his La Liga career.

Real coach Fabio Capello, who had dropped Beckham when the Englishman announced that he was joining the Los Angeles Galaxy after his Madrid contract expired, came to his player's defense.

"First, it was a foul on Beckham," said the Italian. "Then the referee has been hasty to send him off for the way he has responded. It was not such a bad foul."

The irony was that Beckham's play was one of the few bright spots in another dismal Real showing. The closest Madrid came to scoring was when Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, unmarked in the six-yard box, hit the crossbar after receiving a cross from Beckham.

"We want to create chances through wingers and forwards," said Van Nistelrooy, "but we lack a bit of confidence in the attacking front. We have players on the team capable of scoring goals. It's only a matter of time until they do."

Madrid missed a chance to move to withing two points of the lead in La Liga. Valencia beat Barcelona, 2-1, while Sevilla thumped Atletico Madrid, 3-1, to leave Barca and Sevilla tied for first place and Valencia and Real Madrid ties for third four points behind.

Barca stay top but are joined by second-placed Sevilla on 46 points. Valencia climbed to third on 42, ahead of fourth-placed Real Madrid on goal difference, after Real could only draw 0-0 at the Bernabeu against Real Betis.

Valencia went ahead on goals by Miguel Angel Angulo and David Silva at the start of the second half, and Ronaldinho scored on a late free kick for Barca. Valencia's David Albelda and Barca's Deco were shown red cards in the second half.
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