Football: Raul relief for Toshack

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The Independent Online
AT HALF-TIME at Estadio Nuevo Vallecas on Saturday, John Toshack was clinging on to his job as coach of Real Madrid by his finger-nails, writes Rupert Metcalf.

After the previous weekend's 3-1 home defeat to Real's main local rivals, Atletico Madrid, the Spanish sports press had made it clear that the Welshman did not have much time to turn things around. On Saturday, with his team 2-0 down at the interval to the capital's other Primera Division club, humble Rayo Vallecano, the end of the former Liverpool striker's second spell in charge at the Bernabeu seemed nigh.

Then came a remarkable turnaround which will keep Toshack in power - for a while at least. Three goals in the second half - the third a mini- masterpiece from Raul - gave Real a 3-2 victory. It was their first win in nine league games.

"The way we came back is worthy of enormous credit," a relieved Toshack said. He had watched helplessly as the home side went ahead in the 22nd minute through Jordi Ferron and again, after a mistake by his goalkeeper Albano Bizarri, as they doubled their lead six minutes later thanks to Julio Canabal's simple tap-in.

In the first minute of the second half, though, Fernando Morientes chested down Michel Salgado's long ball and beat the former Leicester goalkeeper Kasey Keller with a well-placed shot. Real were soon rocked when Morientes was sent off for dissent, but then Raul was brought down by Jesus Cota and Fernando Hierro converted the penalty.

With five minutes remaining, the 10 men snatched all the points when Raul beat Keller with an impudent chip for a dramatic winner. At last, Toshack could afford to smile.

In Italy's Serie A, the Swede Kennet Andersson scored twice and Giuseppe Signori added a third as Internazionale crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Bologna yesterday.

After starting the season as title favourites, Inter have not won since September and are seven points adrift of the league leaders Lazio, 4-0 winners over Verona at the Olympic stadium.

Sebastian Veron inspired Lazio's victory, scoring his side's opener direct from a corner and making goals for both Marcelo Salas and Paolo Negro. Alen Boksic added a fourth.

Roma hit four first-half goals in an impressive 4-0 victory at Reggina, while Parma continued their climb up the table with a 2-1 win at Piacenza.

The German champions, Bayern Munich, regained the Bundesliga leadership on Saturday from Hamburg, who had gone to the top on Friday, with a 1- 0 win at Ulm. A 44th-minute strike by Carsten Jancker was decisive.