Real Madrid beat Athletic 1-0 to stretch lead

Ruud van Nistelrooy's 55th-minute goal gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday and stretched its lead atop the Spanish league.

updated: December 10, 2007 16:06 IST
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Ruud van Nistelrooy's 55th-minute goal gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday and stretched its lead atop the Spanish league to seven points.

The Dutch striker ran onto a loose ball at the edge of the area before shooting across goal and past goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia for his seventh of the season.

Madrid increased its total to 35 points, seven better than FC Barcelona and Villarreal, and eight ahead of Atletico Madrid.

Earlier on Saturday, Osasuna held struggling Valencia to a 0-0 draw.

Valencia remained sixth with 25 points, while Osasuna has 17.

On Sunday, Barcelona plays Deportivo La Coruna and Villarreal hosts struggling Real Betis while Atletico welcomes Getafe.

Also Sunday it's Racing Santander vs Mallorca, Sevilla vs Murcia, Almeria vs Valladolid, Levante vs Recreativo Huelva, and Zaragoza vs Espanyol.

Van Nistelrooy nearly had a second goal in the 67th but lost control after rounding Aranzubia. Moments later, Robinho beat one defender with his dribbling only to strike the post with a right-footed effort.

Madrid Coach Bernd Schuster fielded a largely unchanged lineup from the one that handily beat Racing Santander last Sunday as Madrid stayed unbeaten at the San Mames since 2004.

Iker Casillas kicked out Andoni Iraola's point-blank chance in the ninth with Athletic enjoying early pressure. Robinho tested Aranzubia on the counterattack, forcing the Bilbao keeper into a dive to thwart the Brazilian's right-footed swipe after a scramble.

After the frantic start, both teams settled until Casillas' reaction save in the 30th pushed away Athletic striker Fernando Llorente's header at the near post.

Llorente went close again in the 76th, shaving the far post from the right.

Madrid continued to press with Julio Baptista going close twice. A number of hard fouls in the final minutes froced a delay after fans littered the field with objects, including one television image showing a pen knife.

At the Reyno de Navarro, Santiago Canizares started in goal for Valencia instead of Timo Hildebrand for the third straight match, and cradled Javier Portillo's weak header in the 24th minute.

Valencia, which has a league-best five road victories, rarely threatened as it looked for its first win since Nov. 11.

David Silva finally put an attempt on goal for the visitors in the 42nd, but Ricardo Lopez got his arms up to block the hard shot from outside the area.

Canizares was quick to stick a toe out and keep a redirected ball from getting past his goal line in the 50th, then stopped substitute Eduardo Fernandes' curler in the 70th and another try in injury time.