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Real mreturn to the top with 2-0 win over Betis

MADRID, Sep 28 (Reuters) Real Madrid returned to the top of the Primera Liga after a Raul penalty and a spectacular bicycle kick from Julio Baptista gave them a 2-0 victory over Real Betis.

The Real captain, starting up front with Javier Saviola rather than usual partner Ruud van Nistelrooy who was rested, wasted several good chances but redeemed himself in the 67th minute when Betis defender David Rivas brought him down.

Robinho scored in the resulting confusion and Real felt aggrieved to have the goal disallowed but Raul settled the matter when he converted the spot-kick for his third league goal of the season, yesterday.

The win left the champions on 13 points after five games and sent them back to the top of La Liga after Villarreal's brief spell at the summit for the first time in their history.

Although Bernd Schuster's side looked lively early on, as they did against Valladolid on Sunday, they lacked a cutting edge and apart from Raul's wastefulness and a dipping Wesley Sneijder free kick, created few genuine chances before the break.

Betis almost punished them, bursting into life in the closing minutes of the first half.

Edu took advantage of a defensive mix-up, only to be foiled by a brave block by Iker Casillas and Leandro Somoza went close two minutes later before David Rivas's bullet header hit the post five minutes before halftime.

Betis grew in confidence in the second half and Brazilian Rafael Sobis hit the angle as the game opened up at both ends.

Schuster took off Real's leading goal scorer Sneijder after 79 minutes and brought on Baptista despite another lively performance from the Dutchman. Just six minutes later the Brazilian popped up to latch on to Mahamadou Diarra's headed flick and score a superb overhead kick.

Villarreal slipped to second with 12 points, ahead of Valencia on goal difference, while Real's arch-rivals Barcelona are fourth on 11 after Lionel Messi inspired the Catalans to a 4-1 thumping of Real Zaragoza on Wednesday.


Story first published: Saturday, September 29, 2007, 11:22 [IST]
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