England duo the Real deal

Last updated at 11:24 11 April 2005

England duo David Beckham and Michael Owen inspired Real Madrid to an emphatic win over Spanish League title rivals Barcelona.

Beckham played a role in most of Madrid's best moves and provided the pass for two of the goals, the second of which saw England team-mate Michael Owen net Real's fourth goals.

Michael Owen defended his Real Madrid record after helping Wanderley Luxemburgo's men to a 4-2 defeat of Barcelona at the Bernabeu.

The England striker netted the fourth goal - his 11th in the Primera Liga - as Madrid reignited the title race by reducing Barca's lead at the top of the table to six points.

And afterwards, the former Liverpool star insisted he is happy with life in Spain despite suggestions he has not played as often as he would have liked.

He said: "I am very happy with the goal and I think we all played very well.

"People think I have only played a bit part but I have played as many games as most of the others.

"I have played in over 50% of the games and I am happy with the way things are going."

Owen and his team-mates still believe the title race is on. "Six points is still a lot to make up but we will put pressure on Barca and try and do our best," he said.

"It would be nice to win the title in my first year here."

Luxemburgo repaid for trident

Madrid coach Wanderley Luxemburgo's brave decision to play an attacking trident of Raul, Ronaldo and Owen paid dividends as his side beat Barcelona in an 'El Clasico' thriller.

All three, plus midfielder Zinedine Zidane, found the back of the net as Madrid closed the gap at the top of the table to six points with seven games remaining.

The triumph will give Madrid a huge morale boost in the run-in to the end of the season, but they could still have reasons to regret Ronaldinho's 72nd-minute free-kick.

With individual goal difference separating the teams in the event of a draw at the end of the campaign, that goal gave Barca what could be a vital edge.

Madrid knew that anything other than three points would mean goodbye to their championship aspirations, so they played with a sense of urgency from the start.

They were ahead as early as the sixth minute as Zidane took advantage of a sluggish Barca defence to head home a Ronaldo cross unmarked from four yards out.

Zidane suffered in the process, however, because as his momentum carried him forward after nodding the ball in, Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes crashed into him and pushed him into the post where the French legend smacked the upright with his face.

Defensive midfield out of the window

Barcelona looked to be half asleep, but could have got back into the game five minutes later as Ronaldinho's looping header skimmed the top of the Madrid crossbar.

That was a sign for the game to go into top gear. Both sides dedicated themselves to all-out attack as defensive midfield play went out of the window.

On the quarter hour Owen, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo combined only for Roberto Carlos to look for the pass when normally he would have shot. It did not matter because four minutes later, Madrid doubled their lead.

Beckham's diagonal free-kick fooled everybody and Ronaldo stole in once again unmarked at the far post to head home from close range.

Beckham was excellent in the game, possibly the best player on the pitch over the 90 minutes.

Barcelona were reeling, but Samuel Eto'o showed all his poaching ability in the 28th minute to storm into the Madrid area to poke the ball home to make it 2-1.

Casillas held firm

That was a sign for the game to swing Barca's way and the league leaders attacked in waves.

Ludovic Giuly forced a save from Iker Casillas in the 32nd minute and fired wide again on 40, while the Madrid goalkeeper denied Giovanni van Bronckhorst just before the break.

It seemed as if Barca must equalise but with virtually the last tick of the half, Raul made it 3-1 when sliding the ball home at the near post.

Madrid had scored three goals with just three shots on target.

The second half began with the brilliant Casillas denying Giuly from 10 yards.

The way Casillas played, it is difficult to understand how Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon could have been linked with a move to Madrid in recent weeks.

Barca tried to drag themselves back into the game but it looked to be over in the 75th minute following a typical move that England fans will all recognise.

Ronaldinho showed Barca threat

Eto'o was robbed in the Madrid half, Beckham picked the ball up and his through ball picked out Owen, who tore down on the Barca goal and beat Valdes with a neat finish. It was a goal "made in England".

Madrid looked as if they were about to run away with the victory, but the genius of Ronaldinho brought everyone in the Bernabeu back down to earth.

Just outside the area, he curled a free-kick over the wall and into the right corner.

Casillas, whose vision was blocked by his team-mates in the wall jumping, never moved.

The free-kick gave some emotion to the closing minutes, but that was lost when Eto'o fell to the ground in agony, holding his knee.

He was stretchered off, hands over face, leaving Barcelona to play on without their prolific scorer.