Just as Real Madrid seemed to be making a surge toward the top of the table, along comes Racing Santander to upset them 2-1 on Saturday. The defeat was Real’s first in nine matches and leaves them sitting five points behind league leaders Barcelona.
The match saw Racing Santander come from a goal down to win with two controversial second-half penalties. The referee in charge, Javier Turienzo, has apparently been receiving threatening phone calls since the match on Saturday ended. Turienzo, in addition to the controversial penalties, also sent off two Real Madrid players, Ivan Helguera and Alvaro Mejia, in the 87th and 90th minutes respectively.
On the first call, the referee had blown play dead for an unintentional handball by Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos. It appeared to me that he blew his whistle to allow Racing to take the free-kick before getting himself into a good position. I felt he was behind the play and not in a good position to make a penalty call on a tackle in the box by Diarra. The case for the second penalty was stronger and Turienzo was in a better position to make the call. Fabio Cannavaro appeared to drag down Nicolas Zigic in the area as a cross was coming in to him. Defender Ezequiel Garay converted both penalty kicks to give Santander the win.
In Saturday’s other match, Real Sociedad to inflicted a home defeat on Real Betis. Javier Garrido scored the only goal of the game on a well-taken free-kick in the 33rd minute. Despite the win, Sociedad remain threatened with relegation as they only have 24 points and have played one more game than Celta Vigo (27 points) who are just above the bottom three in the table.