Dec 23, 2007

Brilliant Baptista Blast Beats Barca

Real Madrid pulled out a 1-0 stunner over arch rivals F.C. Barcelona on a brilliant 36th minute half-volley by Julio Baptista. Minutes earlier, Real backstop Ilker Casillas turned in a pair of acrobatic saves to keep the Spanish champs level. It was Los Blancos' first win at Camp Nou since December 2003 and gives Bernd Schuster's side a seven point lead in the Primera

Barca pushed hard in the second half but Real's defense held firm. Lionel Messi was clearly missed by the Catalan side, but Bojan Krkic's impact as a late-game substitute will have Barca fans wondering why Frank Rijkaard waited until the 82nd minute to bring the 17-year old Serbo-Catalan into the match. The victory gives Real 67 wins versus their arch-rivals' 58 in the teams' historical head-to-head tally.

Espanyol won the day's "other" Madrid-Barcelona match-up, topping Atletico Madrid 2-1 on an 86th minute goal by Luis Garcia. The win moves Espanyol into third place in La Liga, one point ahead of Villareal who tied Recreativo Huelva 1-1 earlier today. Atletico are fifth, one point behind Villareal, followed by Racing Santander, who hold the edge over seventh-placed Valencia on goal difference.

Photo was taken from without permission.

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