Madrid leads 3-1 over Santander in Spain

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Raul Gonzalez scored twice and Spanish league leader Real Madrid beat Racing Santander 3-1 on Saturday.

Updated: December 03, 2007 15:25 IST
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Raul Gonzalez scored twice and Spanish league leader Real Madrid beat Racing Santander 3-1 on Saturday.

Madrid's seventh win at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium this season maintained its perfect home record and inflicted on Santander its first defeat in nine league matches.

FC Barcelona slipped to four points behind Madrid with a 1-1 draw on its crosstown visit to Espanyol.

Also, Sevilla lost 1-0 at Almeria for its third straight league defeat.

Defending champion Madrid has 32 points. Barcelona and Villarreal, which visits Valladolid on Sunday, have 28 each. Espanyol follows with 26.

Andres Iniesta opened the scoring in the seventh minute for Barcelona, which hasn't won on the road in the league since Sept. 30.

Espanyol substitute Ferran "Coro" Corominas equalized in the 68th to extend his side's unbeaten streak to 10 matches.

Ronaldinho started on the bench for the first time in the league since he joined Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain in 2003.

The Brazilian, who entered the field in the 62nd minute, was also a substitute in the team's Champions League draw at Werder Bremen on Wednesday.

Barcelona fans hurled fireworks at Espanyol supporters during the first half, leading police officers to move into the area to prevent further trouble.

All games were preceded by a minute's silence as a mark of respect for the Spanish civil guard who was shot and killed earlier Saturday in southwest France by suspected members of Basque separatist group ETA.

Santander, which entered the match against Real Madrid with the league's best defensive record this season, conceded two goals in the opening 10 minutes.

Madrid scored on its first attack, captain Raul receiving Ruud van Nistelroy's pass before slotting the ball past advancing goalkeeper Tono Rodriguez in the fourth minute.

The champions soon doubled their lead following a swift counterattack. Wesley Sneijder saw his initial shot blocked by the goalkeeper, but the midfielder then hit the ball across the goal and right back Sergio Sanchez was unable to avoid turning the ball onto the post and over the line.

Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, making his 400th appearance for the team, was beaten in the 33rd minute by Euzebiusz Smolarek's low shot but the ball rebounded off the right post and away.

Santander then constantly threatened the Madrid goal, but fell further behind in the 70th when Raul scored direct from a free kick for his eighth goal of the season.

Former Madrid forward Pedro Munitis clipped in Oscar Serrano's low cross from the left to narrow the gap for Santander.

Iniesta ran in to shoot Barcelona into an early lead after Lionel Messi had raced through the Espanyol defense to the goal line and cut the ball back.

The visitors, still lacking injured Samuel Eto'o and Deco, almost doubled their lead in the 32nd minute. Midfielder Xavi rattled the bar with a shot and when the ball rebounded to Ronaldinho's replacement Bojan Krkic, he headed back onto the woodwork.

However, soon after Ronaldinho took the field, Coro leveled the scores by shooting home from Albert Riera's low cross from the left.

Sevilla was well below the form it showed when it beat Arsenal 3-1 Tuesday to advance to the Champions League second round.

The UEFA Cup champion paid the price when Santiago Acasiete's header slipped through the legs of Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop in the 87th minute.

Sevilla's right back Dani Alves was ejected in the 46th after receiving his second yellow card for a foul on Almeria forward Albert Crusat.

Also on Sunday, it's: Getafe vs. Levante; Recreativo Huelva vs. Zaragoza; Deportivo La Coruna vs. Osasuna; Mallorca vs. Murcia; Real Betis vs. Atletico Madrid; Valencia vs. Athletic Bilbao.

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