Real Madrid 2 Espanyol 1: Raul reaches landmark as Real plan for future

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The Independent Football

Raul Gonzalez Blanco became only the seventh player in history to score 200 league goals in Spain with a penalty that gave Real Madrid a victory over Espanyol.

The record-breaking striker took a tumble after being dragged back by Dani Jarque on 70 minutes and coolly sent Carlos Kameni the wrong way from the spot to make it four goals in his last five games, 13 for the season, and a double century in the white shirt.

That Real have precious little else in attack without the injured Ruud van Nistelrooy was in evidence again in this hard-fought home win. It was also apparent in midweek when they crashed out of the Champions League against Roma and appears to have been behind a meeting with Seville striker Luis Fabiano's agent last week.

After failing to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the fourth consecutive season, Madrid are understood to have began planning for next season by holding a two-hour meeting with Fabiano's representative, Jose Fuentes.

The Seville striker, who is La Liga's top scorer, has been watched by Manchester United this season and was the subject of interest from Manchester City in the January transfer window.

But Fuentes claims his player favours staying in Spain and told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser that in a meeting with Real officials he confirmed to them that the bottom line of his player's complicated contract – Seville only own a third of the player – is that Fabiano's buy-out clause is set at just £8m.

Until the transfer window opens in the summer, and until Van Nistelrooy recovers from an ankle problem, Real will have to make do with Raul and for now the 29-year-old striker, who is in his 13th season at the club, is bearing the load. His spot-kick put him just 16 goals away from overtaking Alfredo Di Stefano as the club's all-time top scorer. But it came after Real were given a scare by the visitors who went ahead on the half-hour through Valdo who headed home Luis Garcia's cross – a goal made easier by the failure of keeper Iker Casillas to come for the ball and the absence of left-back Marcelo.

The Brazilian defender reappeared just before half time to create Real's equaliser. He tricked his way into the box and his cross was so good that although it only hit Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain on the knee it still cannoned past a flapping Kameni.

Real's win keeps them comfortably clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga and 18 points ahead of neighbours Atletico Madrid who, with trademark inconsistency, followed up last week's win over Barcelona with an away defeat to Zaragoza. Diego Milito's penalty won the match after an own-goal from Pablo Ibañez had cancelled out Simao's opener.