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Monday, Nov. 23, 2009

Madrid moves past Barca after victory

MADRID (AP) Real Madrid led the Spanish league after beating Racing Santander 1-0 and Barcelona could only draw 1-1 against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Madrid has 28 points and Barcelona 27. The teams meet on Nov. 29 in Barcelona.

Gonzalo Higuain's first-half goal, following up on a rebound of a Kaka shot, was enough for Madrid to secure three points.

Daniel Alves broke the deadlock for Barcelona at San Mames Stadium charging on to a Xavi Hernandez pass to score in the 53rd minute. Substitute Gaizka Toquero equalized 10 minutes later.

Barcelona was without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, due to a hamstring injury. Defenders Rafael Marquez and Eric Abidal and midfielder Yaya Toure were also sidelined, with swine flu.

The European champion controlled the game in the early stages, keeping the ball in Bilbao's half and creating several good chances.

With the scores level and the clock ticking down Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola replaced Messi and Xavi Hernandez with Bojan Krkic and Thierry Henry, and despite some late pressure they could not create a second goal.

Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini played Higuain alongside Karim Benzema in attack, with Raul Gonzalez starting on the bench and Cristiano Ronaldo still out.

"We have to take into account that some important players are missing due to injury," Real Madrid director general Jorge Valdano said. "We lacked brilliance and there were some boring spells, although we emerged with credit."

Chelsea marches on

LONDON (AP) Michael Essien scored twice in Chelsea's 4-0 romp over Wolverhampton to stay five points clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.

Arsenal tumbled 1-0 at Sunderland and Manchester United moved into second with a 3-0 victory over Everton.

Goals by Florent Malouda and Essien put Chelsea 3-0 up inside the first 22 minutes before Joe Cole scored his first goal in 13 months in the second half.

The result meant that Chelsea has won all seven home games and hasn't conceded a goal at Stamford Bridge since the opening game of the season against Hull.

Darren Bent scored Sunderland's 71st-minute winner in a surprise victory over Arsenal, which had won six of its previous seven league games but was left on 25 points from 12 games and dropped to third.

"It's a big setback because you do not prepare yourself to drop points in a situation like that," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "It's not especially worrying but it's frustrating."

Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia scored in Manchester United's routine win over Everton at Old Trafford as the defending champions moved up to second.

Liverpool and Manchester City fell further out of contention with a 2-2 draw. Although it has a game in hand on Chelsea, City stayed sixth with 21 points and Liverpool is seventh with 20.

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