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Barcelona bow to Real Brazilians
- EURO ROUND-UP - Kaka strike protects Milan’s lead

Madrid: Brazilian stars Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo scored a goal each as Spanish league leaders Real Madrid edged arch-rivals Barcelona 2-1 to win their first league match at the Nou Camp in 20 years.

Carlos struck the first in the 37th minute, while league top-scorer Ronaldo added the second in the 73rd to take his season’s tally to 12. Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert scored Barcelona’s consolation goal in the 82nd minute on Saturday.

Real’s victory marked a happy return to the Nou Camp for David Beckham, who gained a Champions League winner’s medal there for Manchester United against Bayern Munich in 1999.

“The memories came flooding back,” Beckham said. “But I’m with a different team now. Coming here as a Madrid player and beating Barcelona was just as sweet.”

The Catalan club’s defeat leaves it without a victory in the last four matches and seals a dismal week, following the 1-5 loss at Malaga on Wednesday.

In other 15th-round games, defender Joan Capdevila scored the lone goal as Deportivo Coruna edged Malaga 1-0 to move into second place in the league. Elsewhere, Real Betis crushed Real Sociedad 4-0 while Osasuna beat Celta Vigo 3-2.

Real lead the standings with 33 points, three ahead of Deportivo. Valencia is next with 28, followed by Osasuna with 26.

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard, whose side has not won since Brazilian forward Ronaldinho was sidelined last month, began the game with a defensive line-up in a bid to stifle Real’s attacking flair.

Although this created a grey first half, the tactic worked until the 37th minute when Real scored through a move created by Beckham’s sweeping crossfield pass to Zinedine Zidane.

The French star passed to Carlos and the Brazilian’s low shot from just outside the penalty area took a deflection off Barcelona’s Dutch defender Michael Reiziger to elude goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Rijkaard reacted at half time by bringing on wingers Marc Overmars and Ricardo Quaresma, and his team responded with an improved display.

Barcelona finally started to create opportunities after an hour, with Overmars denied by an acrobatic save by Iker Casillas in the 62nd minute and the goalkeeper parried Kluivert’s shot three minutes later.

Ronaldo, who had promised a goal before the match, extended the lead when he fired home, again with the aid of a deflection — off Dutch midfielder Philip Cocu this time — from Carlos’ pass across goal.

In Italy, holders Juventus lost more ground in the title race after crashing to their second consecutive defeat. First-half goals from Italy internationals Bernardo Corradi and Stefano Fiore gave Lazio a deserved 2-0 win over the reigning Serie A champions, hours after AC Milan had taken sole possession of top spot with a fortuitous 1-0 victory at Empoli.

Milan may not have been at their best but they rode their luck to claim the outright leadership with a hard-fought victory. A right-footed screamer from second-half substitute Kaka nine minutes from time ensured Milan took all three points from a fixture that was far from a cakewalk for the European champions.

Milan lead the table with 30 points from 12 matches. Juventus, beaten 3-1 at home to inter last week and by Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday, remain in third place, four points behind Milan.

Lazio’s surprise victory kick-started their own challenge, moving them up to fourth place which they share with Inter Milan.

Juventus coach Marcello Lippi refused to criticise his underperforming players and accepted responsibility for the club’s third defeat in seven days. “The technical staff and I have to take the majority of the blame.”

Juventus fell behind in the 21st minute when the visitors were caught napping by a quickly-taken throw-in by Jaap Stam near the right-wing corner flag. The Dutchman fed Fiore whose cross found Corradi and his twisting diving header gave Gianluigi Buffon no chance.

Roles were reversed for Lazio’s second goal in first-half stoppage time with Corradi returning the favour. Guiseppe Favalli’s long ball down the right found Corradi and he cut inside Nicola Legrottaglie before crossing into the box for Fiore. The former Udinese midfielder controlled the ball with his left and struck a sweet right-foot shot which flew into the net beyond Buffon.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti admitted his team found the going tough. “It was a difficult match and we struggled to break through a well organised defence. The result was turned by Kaka’s stunning goal.”

Milan rarely threatened in attack and they were lucky to go in at half time on level terms after Empoli had a goal controversially ruled out for off-side.

Promising international Antonio di Natale, one of Italy’s most sought-after young strikers, drilled a right foot shot past Milan’s Brazilian goalkeeper Dida only to see his effort wiped out.

Tommaso Rocchi was standing in an off-side position when Di Natale struck but did not appear to be interfering with play. Referee Salvatore Racalbulto saw things differently and rather than give the benefit of the doubt to the home side, he awarded a free-kick to the visitors and Milan were let off the hook. Kaka replaced Andrea Pirlo in the 74th minute and the talented Brazilian midfielder did not take long to make his mark. (AP)

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