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Real Madrid 4-1 Barcelona

By Paul Fletcher

Raul opened the scoring for Real Madrid
Raul set Real on their way with a superb finish

Real Madrid celebrated winning the Spanish league title by humiliating Barcelona in the El Clasico derby.

Raul struck from 18 yards, a completely unmarked Arjen Robben headed home the second and substitute Gonzalo Higuan scored the third with a deft finish.

Ruud van Nistelrooy then scored a penalty after Barca skipper Carles Puyol handled in the box.

Iker Casillas denied Lionel Messi but Thierry Henry scored from 20 yards late on while Xavi saw red in injury time.

It was a miserable night from start to finish for Barca and their beleaguered coach Frank Rijkaard.

Villarreal defeated Recreativo Huelva earlier on Wednesday to extend their lead over Barca to seven points in the race for second place.

And before the match started at the Bernabeu, Barcelona, in compliance with Spanish tradition, formed a guard of honour and magnanimously clapped their traditional rivals on to the pitch.

Real had clinched the league title with their 2-1 win at Osasuna on Sunday and, when the match started, they played with the confidence and assuredness of champions.

The home team dominated the early possession and took a deserved lead through Raul, even if there was the suspicion of a foul in the build up.

Guti appeared to clip Rafael Marquez as the Barca defender attempted to clear the ball and a second later Raul had smashed the ball in off the post with a superb left-footed strike.


Victor Valdes failed to hold a dipping strike from Gago and just managed to collect the ball at the second attempt with Raul lurking.

The goalkeeper's uncertainty was typical of his team's performance and it was no surprise when Robben headed home a Guti free-kick at the near post after being allowed to roam completely unmarked in the Barca penalty box.

The free-kick was awarded after Yaya Toure was penalised for a foul on Sergio Ramos, but again Barca could feel aggrieved as there appeared to be minimal contact.

Valdes saved from Guti and Robben, while Raul hit the side netting as Real pushed for a third before the break.

In contrast, Barca, who had replaced Eidur Gudjohnsen with Giovanni after 24 minutes, created little.

Bojan Krkic shot over under pressure from 14 yards while Henry missed with a free-kick.

Barcelona's players applaud champions Real Madrid on to the pitch
Barcelona formed a guard of honour before the game

The pattern continued after the break, with Xavi clearing off the line from Mahamadou Diarra before Higuain scored the third.

Higuain, who had been on the pitch 57 seconds, collected a low cross into the box from Diarra before skipping past Puyol and finishing superbly .

The misery continued for Barca, with Valdes denying Marcelo before Van Nistelrooy scored his penalty after being on the field for just over two minutes.

Lionel Messi almost scored after a brilliant jinking run but Iker Casillas made a brilliant fingertip save in a rare flash of brilliance from Barca.

Casillas made a further excellent save from Messi close to the final whistle but Barca's consolation eventually came from Henry, with a pin-point finish from 20 yards.

But there was still further misery for Barca as Xavi picked up a second yellow after appearing to speak out of turn to the referee.

Real Madrid: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Heinze, Marcelo, Diarra, Gago, Guti, Sneijder, Raul, Robben.

Barcelona: Valdes, Zambrotta, Marques, Puyol, Adibal, Xavi, Toure, Gudjohnsen, Messi, Bojan, Henry.

see also
Man Utd 1-0 Barcelona (agg 1-0)
29 Apr 08 |  Europe

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