ID (AFP) Barcelonas perfect start to the Spanish League season ended on Saturday when the
champions were held to a 0-0 draw at Valencia.
A seventh successive win would have been Barcelonas best ever beginning to a league campaign, but Pep
Guardiolas side had to settle for a draw against a resolute Valencia side and now sit one point above Real
Madrid at the summit.
Earlier Real captain Raul celebrated breaking the clubs all-time appearance record with a brace as Real
bounced back from their Sevilla defeat with a 4-2 home win over Valladolid.
It was a good victory and a much-needed one, said Raul. Games like this after the international fixtures can be
dangerous but we won and that is all that counts. Xavi shrugged off a knock to start for Barcelona but Thierry
Henry missed out through injury and Zlatan Ibrahimovic began on the substitutes bench.
Lionel Messi was up front but looked to be suffering from fatigue after hours of travelling for Argentinas vital
World Cup qualifiers.
Valencia coach Unai Emery chose not to risk flaring up David Villas injury relying on the counter-attacking pace
of Juan Mata and Pablo Hernandez.
A stray pass allowed Valencia to spring a lightning counter-attack after just two minutes but Hernandez could not
beat Victor Valdes in the Barcelona goal.
Guardiola resisted the temptation to make any changes at half-time and his team raised the standard in the
Pedro Rodriguez had the best chance close to the hour mark but could not squeeze his shot past the
goalkeeper. Hernandez almost scored a sensational long-range goal from his own half only for Valdes to tip it
over the crossbar.
Real did not have such problems in front of goal with Raul overtaking the record of Manolo Sanchis with his
711th appearance in the white shirt and scoring twice inside five first half minutes (13min, 18min) as Real made
hard work of overcoming Valladolid.
Brazilian Marcelo and substitute Gonzalo Higuain were also on target to fend off a brave Valladolid as Real won
to boost confidence for Wednesdays Champions League home match against AC Milan.
With 13 minutes gone Raul neatly flicked in with his heel for the opener and five minutes later he arrived on cue
to side-foot home a Marcelo pass.
The game looked wrapped-up but Nauzet German curled an unstoppable free-kick past Iker Casillas close to
the half hour mark.
Marcelo responded with a fine individual goal smashing home with his weaker right foot with literally the final kick
of the first period.
Valladolid reduced the cushion to just one goal on 53 minutes before substitute Higuain produced a sublime
79th minute chipped finish to seal the game.
Sevillas joy at beating Real two weeks ago was short-lived as the title hopefuls came crashing back down to
earth with a 1-0 loss at Deportivo. Sevilla thought they had underlined their title credentials with a superb 2-1 win
over Real but saw a run of five straight wins come to an end with Juan Rodriguezs fantastic strike clinching the
win for Deportivo.
We knew that we had not won the league by beating Real Madrid and we are not going to go down because we
lost here, said Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez.
It was sweet revenge for Deportivo who lost four times against Sevilla last season, twice in the league and twice
in the Kings Cup, and La Corunas fourth consecutive win sees them stay fourth and level on points with Sevilla.
A fourth consecutive clean sheet kept Sevilla at bay as Deportivo made it four wins on the spin.
Sevilla now travel to Stuttgart on Tuesday for their next Champions League group match having won at Rangers
in their last game in the competition.
Raul celebrated breaking the clubs all-time appearance record with a brace as Real bounced back from their
Sevilla defeat with a 4-2 home win over Valladolid on Saturday to move above Barcelona on goal difference at
the top of the table.
Raul, 32, overtook the record of Manolo Sanchis with his 711th appearance in the white shirt and scored twice
inside five first half minutes (13 min, 18) as Real made hard work of overcoming Valladolid.