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Raul equals record as Real defeats Numancia

RAUL Gonzalez joined Alfredo di Stefano as Real Madrid's all-time leading scorer with a second-half goal in the Spanish champion's 2-0 victory at Numancia on Saturday.

Raul was perfectly placed in front of goal in the 48th minute to slot home the rebound from Gonzalo Higuain's initial shot and take his goal tally to 307 in his 15th season. Di Stefano played for Madrid from 1953-64.

"To equal (Di Stefano) is very nice and I hope to pass him in the next games," said Raul, who is also Spain's all-time leading goal scorer with 44.

Arjen Robben's solo score in the 56th helped to extend Madrid's winning streak to six games and improve to within nine points of Spanish leader Barcelona, which was to play Racing Santander late yesterday in a match that Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said would play a "pivotal" part in the club's quest to end a three-year trophy-less streak.

Barcelona has 53 points, Madrid 44 and Sevilla 38.

Elsewhere, Athletic Bilbao twice rallied from one-goal deficits to beat Malaga 3-2.

Markel Susaeta headed substitute Gaizka Toquero's pass home in the 86th to secure a last-minute victory for the second straight league match at the San Mames.

Albert Luque and Manuel "Lolo" Ortiz scored in each half to twice put Malaga ahead, and Athletic equalized through Fernando Llorente and Fran Yeste .

Teams observed a minute's silence in honor of former Spanish football federation president Pablo Porta who died on Wednesday.

'Great teammates'

Madrid at least accomplished one thing that Barcelona won't be able to - a victory at Los Pajaritos Stadium, where the Catalans suffered their sole defeat of the season on opening day.

Raul, who was also the all-time leading scorer in UEFA competitions, has already played more minutes than any other Madrid player.

"This has been possible because of playing for Real Madrid beside so many great teammates who have helped me," said Raul, who scored his first competitive goal against Atletico Madrid on November 5, 1994. "I'm happy."

Numancia controlled the first half with Javier del Pino beating goalkeeper Iker Casillas with a header in the 27th only for the ball to bounce off the post. Three minutes later, Del Pino flicked-on to Gorka Brit to hit into the side netting from a tight angle.

Madrid played out the last 11 minutes with 10 men after Fernando Gago was booked for a second time, while former Spain striker Raul came off with six minutes to play and received congratulations from his teammates.


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