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Real extend lead to seven points
thinkSPAIN , Sunday, December 9, 2007

A single Ruud van Nistelrooy goal was enough to secure the points for Real Madrid from a difficult visit to Bilbao in last night's televised game to give Bernd Schuster a first career win - as either player or coach - at the San Mamés stadium.

The result stretches Real's lead at the top of the table to seven points, exerting pressure on a tightly-bunched chasing pack led by Barcelona, who face Deportivo La Coruña at home later today. In yesterday's earlier game, Ronald Koeman's Valencia battled to a dull goalless draw in Pamplona, and could drop out of the UEFA qualifying places if Racing beat Mallorca in Santander tonight.

In the Basque country, the home side enjoyed the best of the early exchanges with Casillas called upon twice before the interval to deny first Iraola, then Llorente. Sergio Ramos thought he had broken the deadlock when he got his head on the end of a Wesley Sneijder free-kick at the far post, but he was correctly adjudged offside and the scores remained level at the break.

The only goal of the game came ten minutes after the resumption when the former Man Utd. striker latched on to a loose pass by Aitor Ocio before firing home an unstoppable long-range drive (photo) past Aranzubía and into the top corner of his net.

A series of crunching challenges and the referee's inability to impose his authority marred the final half-hour, and the night ended on a sour note as Casillas was pelted with missiles from fans during the final stages every time he ventured out of his net after a couple of late penalty appeals had been turned down. One of these, a plastic cup, hit him on the back of his head.

Saturday, 8th December
Osasuna 0-0 Valencia
Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Real Madrid

Wednesday, 5th December
Osasuna 1-1 Sevilla

Liga table, 8th December
1  Real Madrid  35*
2  Barcelona  28
3  Villarreal  28
4  Atletico Madrid  27
5  Espanyol  26
6  Valencia  25*
7  Racing Santander  23
8  Real Mallorca  20
9  Real Zaragoza  18
10 Getafe  18
11 Osasuna  17*
12 Athletic Bilbao  17*
13 Sevilla  16
14 Almeria  16
15 Real Valladolid  16
16 Murcia  15
17 Recreativo Huelva  15
18 Deportivo La Coruna  13
19 Real Betis  11
20 Levante  7
*played 15, the rest have played 14

Sunday, 9th December
Atletico Madrid vs Getafe
Barcelona vs Deportivo La Coruna
Real Zaragoza vs Espanyol
Levante vs Recreativo Huelva
Racing Santander vs Mallorca
Villarreal vs Real Betis
Sevilla vs Murcia
Almeria vs Valladolid

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