Real Madrid move ahead of Barcelona

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane
Updated 30 November 2019

Real Madrid move ahead of Barcelona

  • Madrid has a three-point lead over Barcelona

MADRID: Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal scored second-half goals as Real Madrid beat Alavés 2-1 to take the Spanish league lead on Saturday.

Madrid has a three-point lead over Barcelona, which visits fourth-place Atlético Madrid on Sunday.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have a game in hand because their “clásico” match from October was postponed until Dec. 18 because of a separatist rally in the Catalan capital. It was the third straight league win for Madrid, which is unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions.

Ramos scored with a header off a set piece taken by Toni Kroos in the 52nd minute, then committed the foul leading to a penalty kick for Alaves, which was converted by Lucas Pérez in the 65th. Carvajal netted the winner from close range five minutes later off the rebound of a header by Francisco “Isco” Alarcón that hit the post.

Alavés was coming off two straight league wins — against Valladolid and Eibar — and stayed 13th. It has only won three of its 29 league matches against Madrid.

Madrid has lost only one of its last seven away league matches, at Mallorca last month in the team’s last defeat in all competitions.

It was coming off a 2-2 draw at Paris Saint-Germain in the group stage of the Champions League.

Coach Zinedine Zidane opted to start against Alavés without Thibaut Courtois, who made a mistake in the first PSG goal on Tuesday. 

He was replaced by Alphonse Areola, whose key second-half saves secured three points for Madrid under heavy rain at the Mendizorroza Stadium.

Madrid was also without Eden Hazard, who picked up a bruise in the match against PSG.

 Isco started in his place, alongside Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema up front.


World No 1 Brooks Koepka and defending champion Dustin Johnson relishing Saudi return

Updated 48 min 44 sec ago

World No 1 Brooks Koepka and defending champion Dustin Johnson relishing Saudi return

  • Royal Greens Golf & Country Club looking in ‘incredible shape’ according to Koepka
  • Johnson enjoying being part of a drive to grow the game of golf in Saudi

JEDDAH: Defending champion Dustin Johnson and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka are both back in Saudi Arabia ahead of this week’s second edition of the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers.

The US stars headline one of the strongest line-ups on the Middle East swing, part of the European Tour, and are joined at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in a field that includes ten Major Champions competing for the $3.5m prizemoney.

World Number 5, Johnson, raced to a two-shot victory to claim his first regular European Tour title at the inaugural Saudi International last year that included a second round 61 – a course record.

“This year, I’m looking forward to having a big year. I feel like the game is in pretty good shape,” said Johnson.

“I’m really pleased with how I played last year here, I like the golf course and enjoyed myself here last year. I’m excited to be back in Saudi Arabia for this tournament. Because you won at a golf course, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win again. I’m going to have to work for it this week.”

Johnson also feels he has a part to play in continuing the growth of the game by bringing it to new markets such as the Kingdom.

“It’s one of the reasons I’m here, golf was pretty non-existent here a while ago. They’re trying to grow the game here which is really cool and it’s great to be a part of that. An event like this massively helps that.”

The world’s leading golfer, Brooks Koepka, returns to the Kingdom after another stellar season that saw him claim a fourth major title. The 29-year-old is continuing his return to competitive action following a knee injury that kept him out of action for three months at the end of last season.

“I had three months off, so there was no point in having a holiday or a vacation. It was more of a work thing in my off-season to get my game ready. It felt good in Abu Dhabi, it felt good in Dubai and it now feels good here,” said Koepka.

Both players feel the 7,010-yards Par 70 Royal Greens and Country Club layout facing the players this week has taken on a big step.

“It looks in incredible shape just as it was last year. Any time you can give a course an extra year to really develop, you’re going to see the progression of it,” added Koepka.

“The greens are a lot faster. The rough is a lot thicker. It’s settled in nicely.”

The course stretches along the spectacular Red Sea coastline and for Dustin Johnson it’s given him an opportunity to try another sporting passion before his practice round this morning – Scuba Diving.

“I had no idea that you could do that in Saudi Arabia. Last year, I met a friend that lived here and took us out on a scuba dive, so that was something I was looking forward to doing again this year.”

“So, we went out this morning and did another dive, to see a 100-year-old shipwreck which was really nice. It’s beautiful, the Red Sea, crystal clear blue water.

Joining Johnson and Koepka this week are fellow US stars Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed as well as some of the biggest names in European golf; Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood – an early season winner at the recent 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Tickets remain available for the Ultimate Day Out at the Saudi International with day golf tickets starting from 50 SAR and 160 SAR for a full tournament pass. World class music acts will also be performing at the Saudi International with headline acts Marco Carola, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike (January 30), Zedd and Bryan Adams (January 31) and Luis Fonsi and Gipsy Kings (February 1) all performing with tickets starting from 75 SAR.

For more tournament information, visit – www.saudiinternational.com