Ronaldinho dents Real's title hopes

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The Independent Football

David Beckham's hopes of winning the Spanish title with Real Madrid received another setback as Ronaldinho - the man Manchester United tried to replace him with - masterminded a 2-1 win for Barcelona at the Bernabeu yesterday.

Santiago Solari looked to have set Madrid on their way to victory, breaking the deadlock early in the second half following Beckham's corner. But Patrick Kluivert scored within seconds of coming on as a substitute for Barcelona. Giovanni van Bronckhorst, on loan from Arsenal, advanced into the area and lobbed the ball over the Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas for his fellow Dutch international to head into the net.

The Portuguese wideman, Luis Figo, who Real bought from Barca for £37m, was then sent off with his second yellow card following his strong challenge on Carles Puyol before Ronaldinho's outrageous chipped through-ball allowed Xavier Xavi to score the winner in the dying minutes.

A late double from the Uruguayan striker Fernando Correa helped give Real Mallorca a 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Valladolid that lifted them out of the Primera Liga relegation zone yesterday.

Valladolid had cancelled out Andrija Delibasic's early strike with a spectacular volley from midfielder Chema in the second, but Correa restored the lead when he caught the goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri off his line with a gentle angled shot in the 70th minute.

The former Atletico Madrid player made sure of the win with a brilliantly struck 25-yard free kick five minutes from time.

The win lifted the islanders into 14th place, two points above the crowded drop zone and meant that Espanyol fell back into the relegation places despite their 3-1 win over Atletico Madrid on Saturday when the Brazilian midfielder Fredson put the Catalans ahead in the second half with a powerful header from a corner and the substitute striker Claudiu Raducanu made sure of the win when he scored a neat double in the last eight minutes.

Atletico pulled one back when Fernando Torres scored from close range in injury time but it was little consolation as they lost ground in the race for a Uefa Cup spot next season. Atletico remain in seventh place.

Already relegated Murcia prop up the table on 20 points, while Celta Vigo, who won 1-0 at home to Osasuna, are in 19th on 36 and Espanyol have 37. Six other teams are also within three points of the relegation zone.

Deportivo La Coruña stay fourth behind Barcelona after surrendering an early lead against an ambitious Malaga on Saturday. The midfielder Victor put Deportivo ahead with a well-struck shot midway through the first half but they eased up too quickly and Malaga equalised before the break when the substitute Manuel Canabal stabbed in from close range.

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