Owen goes solo as Real overwhelm Barcelona

Real Madrid 4 Barcelona 2

Real Madrid breathed new life into the Spanish title race when they produced their best performance of the season to claim a crushing 4-2 victory at home to the League leaders, Barcelona, yesterday. Strikes in the first half from Zinedine Zidane, Raul and Ronaldo and a superbly taken effort from Michael Owen midway through the second period secured Real an enthralling win at the Bernabeu that left them six points behind the Catalans with seven games left to play.

Earlier Seville moved up into third place in the standings after an authoritative 3-1 win over their fellow high-flyers, Espanyol. But Seville's city rivals Real Betis failed to stay in the Champions' League places when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Levante. They are now in fifth place, level on 50 points with Villarreal.

Knowing that nothing less than victory would keep alive their hopes of depriving Barça of the title, Real flooded forward into attack from the first whistle and were rewarded with a two-goal lead inside the first 20 minutes. Zidane helped himself to the first after Ronaldo had dinked in a neat cross from the right-hand side of the area and the Brazilian ended his recent goal drought with a simple header at the far post after David Beckham had fired in a trademark free-kick.

The former Real Madrid striker Samuel Eto'o pulled one back for the Catalans just before the half hour when he scorched past Ivan Helguera and Roberto Carlos and then netted with a deft finish with the outside of his foot. But Real hit Barça once again on the stroke of half-time when Raul stabbed in under the keeper, Victor Valdes, at the near post after Roberto Carlos had steamed down the left wing and cut back a pass into the area.

Barça had a string of chances to narrow Real's lead but sometop-class keeping from Iker Casillas and some desperate defending kept the Catalans at bay. Real went 4-1 up when Owen notched his 11th League goal of the season when he timed his run in behind the Barça defence perfectly, picked up Beckham's perceptive through ball and fired it coolly to one side of Valdes.

There was no relenting in the breathless pace, however, and Ronaldinho provided new but short-lived hope for the Catalans when he fooled Casillas with a sweetly struck free-kick from the edge of the area 18 minutes from time.

Owen was more than happy with his contribution to Real's victory and insisted he is happy with life in Spain despite suggestions he has not played as often as he would have liked. "I am very happy with the goal and I think we all played very well," Owen said. "People think I have only played a bit part but I have played as many games as most of the others. I've played in over 50 per cent of the games and I am happy with the way things are going."

Owen and his team-mates still believe the title race is on. "Six points is still a lot to make up but we will put pressure on Barça and try and do our best," added the England striker. "It would be nice to win the title in my first year here."

Barça's disappointment was compounded by the news that Eto'o could face four weeks on the sidelines after injuring his right knee late in the game. "He will be out of action for a minimum of three weeks but it could go up to six or even eight depending on how serious it is," said Jordi Ardevol, the head of Barça's medical services. "He is in great pain but we have to wait several hours for the muscles to relax before we can perform the tests."

Real Madrid (4-4-2): Casillas; Salgado, Pavon, Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Gravesen, Zidane (Celades, 90), Raul; Owen (Figo, 82), Ronaldo.

Barcelona (4-3-3); Valdes; Belletti, Oleguer, Puyol, van Bronckhorst; Marquez, Xavi, Iniesta; Giuly, Ronaldinho, Eto'o.

Referee: R R Dominguez.

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
The reindeer pen at the attraction
lifeLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen's 'Magical Journey' and other winter blunderlands
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'