Dec 1, 2007

Soccer Source Saturday Summary, Dec. 1, 2007: Gritty Gunners, Royal Raul, Pernicious Porto

The top game in La Liga was undoubtedly the Barcelona derby. Andres Iniesta struck first for Barca, but Coro equalized midway through the second half. Earlier, Real Madrid saw off seventh-placed Racing Santander at the Bernabeu. Top-of-the-table Real got a brace from Raul and didn't seem to have much trouble, winning the game 3-1. There was a third liga game today: Arsenal vanquishers Sevilla lost at UD Almeira. The Andalusian side are now 11th, having lost their last three liga games since knocking off Real Madrid Nov. 3.

Arsenal played a gritty game at Villa Park in today's top Premiership match-up, rebounding nicely from that (meaningless) Champions League loss at midweek. After going a goal down, Arsene Wenger's men outplayed their hosts in a stellar first half and then simply bunkered down in the second. Which is what you do when you get the lead on the road, especially at a place like Villa Park, where the home fans were in full-throated support. It was amazing how loud they were, even on the Fox Soccer Channel feed. The Birmingham side played well but simply couldn't get around the Arsenal bulwark in the second half.

In Italy, AC Milan and Juventus played a scoreless draw at San Siro. What's that? A scoreless game in Serie A? How could it be? It wasn't the worst nil-nil match I've seen (some are much worse than others. If you've been watching Serie A the past 40 years you should know given how numerous they've been. Sometimes I seriously think there is more scoring at a Star Trek convention for evangelicals than during your typical Serie A weekend). Both goalies played very well and Juve hit the post in the first half.

Werder Bremen have temporarily taken over first place in the Bundesliga, thanks to their victory over Hamburg SV in the "Nordderby." HSV had looked very good coming in to today, beating up on Stade Rennes in the UEFA Cup at midweek, but it unfortunately didn't carry over. Hamburg is still in third place despite the loss, one point behind Bayern Munich and three behind Werder. Bayern can--and probably will--reclaim the top spot tomorrow when they face 14th placed Arminia Bielefeld.

Finally, in Portugal FC Porto rebounded nicely from their midweek loss at Anfield (the team's first loss all season) to win on the road at Benfica, 1-0 in a game pitting the top two teams in the bwin liga against each other. Freddy Adu got into the game in the 69th minute but was unable to get the Lisbon side level. Porto now have a seven point advantage over Benfica after only 12 games.

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