Kaka ends barren spell as Real close gap

MADRID - Brazilian superstar Kaka scored his first league goal in three months as Real Madrid closed back to within five points of pacesetters Barcelona at the top of the Spanish top-flight with a comfortable 3-0 home win over Espanyol.

By (AFP)

Published: Sun 7 Feb 2010, 12:01 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:05 AM

Barcelona had gone eight points clear with a 2-0 home win over Getafe earlier on Saturday, despite playing over an hour of the game with ten men, so the pressure was on Real and they responded with an 11th consecutive home victory.

Real were without Cristiano Ronaldo, completing his two-match ban, but didn’t need the Portuguese star as goals from Sergio Ramos, Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain sealed an easy win.

Madrid got off to a great start when Ramos headed in Esteban Granero’s cross after just five minutes.

Kaka netted a second on 29 minutes after captain Raul, back in the starting line-up, saw his initial effort saved.

Kaka was all smiles after ending a run of seven league games without a goal and this was his first goal since he netted in the 3-2 derby win over Atletico Madrid back on November 7.

“It was nice for me to score after so many games,” said Kaka. “I am coming back from injury and just finding my best form.

“Barcelona are doing well at the moment and not dropping points but we just have to continue winning our games.”

Kaka almost scored again in the second half when he rattled the post.

Argentine Higuain made his Real first appearance following a three week lay-off and came off the bench to score in the final minute to make it 3-0.

Leaders Barcelona had to show the spirit of champions to beat Getafe 2-1 at Camp Nou despite the handicap of playing 65 minutes with ten men after Gerard Pique was sent off for a late lunge.

Barcelona had taken a fifth-minute lead with Lionel Messi curling in a brilliant effort for his 16th goal of the season but defender Gerard Pique got a straight red card on 25 minutes for a late lunge to complicate matters.

Barca rode out the storm for a fifth consecutive win with Messi setting up Xavi for the second goal on 66 minutes and it proved crucial as Roberto Soldado scored a penalty in stoppage time.

The Getafe match was special for midfielder Andres Iniesta who made his 200th league appearance for Barca.

For Argentine centre-back Gaby Milito it was a first league start of the season as he continues his recovery following serious cruciate ligament injuries.

“Playing with one man less is always difficult and Getafe are a great team so this was a great win,” said Milito. “On a personal level it was nice to play 90 minutes after coming back from my injuries.”

With just five minutes gone Barca took the lead with Messi wrapping his left foot around the ball and his bending shot flew in.

A second goal looked a matter of time but Pique then lost his cool on 25 minutes lunging at Rafa Gomez and the referee had no hesitation in reaching for the red card.

Despite being one man less Barca created chances and Seydou Keita missed a sitter on the hour mark putting his shot wide from close range.

Fortunately for Keita it didn’t prove costly with Messi showing great balance and control to set up Xavi who made no mistake to score on 66 minutes.

Rafa Marquez was sent off in the closing stages for giving away a penalty which Roberto Soldado converted but Barca took the spoils.

Getafe must dust themselves down for Wednesday’s Kings Cup semi-final test against Sevilla trailing 2-0 from the first leg.

Earlier Valencia triumphed 2-0 at home over Valladolid, moving them six points clear of fourth-placed Sevilla.

“We should have won by a bigger margin,” said Valencia coach Unai Emery. “We found it difficult at home in the first half of the season but little by little we are improving and making our fans happy.”

For Valladolid’s new coach Onesimo Sanchez, who replaced the sacked Jose Luis Mendilibar, it was a disappointing start in his first game in charge and the club now lie a point above the relegation zone without a win in 2010.

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