Real Madrid beat Real Betis

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Real Betis played host to Real Madrid in Seville on Saturday with both sides seeking a morale boosting win.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Real Betis played host to Real Madrid in Seville on Saturday with both sides seeking a morale boosting win after both suffered consecutive La Liga defeats in the last five days. The visitors in particular have suffered from the absence of key players - Ronaldo, Julio Baptista, Thomas Gravesen and Zinedine Zidane due to injuries. And it was Madrid who were clearly under pressure in the early stages of the match. Real Betis had the first real chance after ten minutes when a glancing header from Ricardo Oliveira just sailed past the far post. The home side kept pressing forward and came close again five minutes later though the shot was comfortably saved by Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas Fernandez who was certainly the busier of the two goalies in the first half. But then against the run of play, it was Madrid instead who took the lead on the half hour mark. Robinho picked up a pass from Raul across the edge of the area and the Brazilian fired home the shot to give the visitors a crucial one-nil advantage. Madrid came close to extending their lead ten minutes into the second half. Robinho could have wrapped up the match when he fired a great shot at goal. But goalkeeper Doblas just got a hand to it and Real Betis could breathe easy once again. Both sides were guilty of sloppy passes as few real chances were created. Betis had their best of the entire match with 15 minutes remaining. Capi (Jeszs Capitan "Capi" Prada) provided a brilliant pass into the area that Castellini got on the end of with his head. Edu then headed the shot on, but it bounced against the woodwork and deflected away to safety. Moments later they were to rue that missed shot when Madrid took a two-nil lead. This time it was substitute Alvaro Mejia, who had only just come on, who provided the goal, his first of the season. Betis goalkeeper Antonio Doblas was too slow to react to the advancing player and he paid the price when the ball flew into the bottom corner of the net. 2-nil at the final whistle to the visitors, the result means Real Madrid move to the top of the league. Real are level with Osasuna on 18 points but have a better goal difference. The standings could all change again on Sunday however when Osasuna play Espanyol. Third-placed Getafe, who have 17 points, also play on Sunday, against Deportivo Coruna. Celta Vigo lie fourth, also on 17 points, after drawing 1-1 at bottom club Athletic Bilbao. (AP)