Rough treatment for Beckham as Real go top and Valencia slip up at home to Osasuna

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The Independent Football

David Beckham has dismissed suggestions that he was singled out for rough treatment during Real Madrid's Primera Liga victory over Villarreal yesterday.

The England captain did admit, however, that he was unhappy with the challenge from defender Rodolfo Arruabarrena that left him with another gash on his ankle during Real's 2-1 win at the Bernabeu.

"I've got a cut ankle again, but it's no real problem and there are no stitches," said Beckham. "It was a challenge I wasn't happy with. But I didn't think they behaved any differently towards me as the game went on."

Madrid moved into a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from Ronaldo and Santiago Solari but were made to sweat late on after Sergio Ballesteros pulled a goal back. Beckham, who was sent off in the midweek Copa del Rey win against Valencia, was careful not to pick up another booking that would have landed him a one-match suspension.

"Of course I don't want another yellow card, but you can't always guarantee that in football," he said.

"I think we've got to be happy with it because it was always going to be a difficult game, we were tired going into it but we showed a lot of character and strength."

Valencia suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Osasuna on Sunday to leave title favourites Real Madrid two points clear at the top of the table.

Needing to win to reclaim top spot, Valencia had only themselves to blame as centre-back Mauricio Pellegrino scored a ridiculous own-goal to gift Osasuna the lead at the end of the first half. Miguel Angel Mista and Xisco had good chances after the break but Valencia, who had Amedeo Carboni sent off, were unable to find an equaliser.

Espanyol have signed Romania striker Claudiu Raducanu from Steaua Bucharest, the Spanish club said Saturday. Raducanu will join on a contract running until the end of the 2006-07 season.

Espanyol, struggling in second from last place in the Primera Liga standings, made the signing of a new striker a priority during the current transfer window.