Capello pays tribute to ‘intelligent’ Beckham

REAL Madrid coach Fabio Capello praised David Beckham after the former England captain marked his return with a goal in a 2-1 win at Real Sociedad.

The 31-year-old, making his first appearance since deciding to join LA Galaxy, scored a free kick in the 37th minute to get Real level after Mikel Aranburu put Sociedad ahead. Ruud van Nistelrooy sealed a 2-1 win to ease pressure on Capello.

“Beckham is intelligent and displayed a commendable attitude. He played a great match,” said Capello.

Ronaldinho struck twice as Barcelona extended their La Liga lead with a 2-0 win over Santander at the Nou Camp last night. Sevilla’s challenge faltered as they dropped points in a 0-0 derby with Betis, for whom Robert Pinho missed a penalty.

Getafe strengthened their European hopes at the expense of Valencia with a 3-0 win yesterday. Levante continued their resurgence beating Recreativo Huelva 2-1. Espanyol beat Celta Vigo 2-0, Luis Garcia and ex-Birmingham star Walter Pandiani scoring. Deportivo La Coruna got a first away win, beating Villarreal 2-0.

Atletico Madrid saw off Athletic Bilbao 1-0 last night.

Meanwhile Inter Milan maintained their 11-point Serie A lead with a 2-0 win at Chievo. Adriano and Hernan Crespo scored as Inter stretched their record winning run to 15 matches.

Inter boss Roberto Mancini said yesterday Italy should have dealt with hooliganism years ago. He spoke after his team’s behind closed doors match as Serie A resumed following last week’s riot which resulted in a policeman’s death. Mancini said: “We always act too late in Italy.” He slammed the decision to play behind closed doors. “To play without the public makes no sense. Better to stop and restart in September when everything is sorted out.”

Second-placed Roma won 3-0 at home to Parma. Palermo in third slipped up to Empoli, who went fourth with a 1-0 win in Sicily.

Ronaldo debuted for AC Milan as a substitute as Milan beat Livorno 2-1.

Bottom club Ascoli lost 2-0 at Sampdoria, Fiorentina won 2-0 against Udinese and Reggina won 2-1 against Torino. Catania drew 1-1 in a Sicilian derby at Messina in an empty stadium. Cagliari and Siena drew 2-2 and Atalanta drew 0-0 with Lazio.

In Germany Schalke extended their Bundesliga lead on Saturday after Werder Bremen slipped up at Stuttgart.

Kevin Kuranyi and Peter Lovenkrands hit second-half goals as the league leaders grabbed a 2-0 victory over Hertha Berlin.

Bayer Leverkusen managed a 2-2 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bayern Munich celebrated their first victory since the return of Ottmar Hitzfeld as manager with a 1-0 home win against Arminia Bielefeld yesterday, Roy Makaay grabbing the goal.

Nurnberg enjoyed a 2-0 win over Bochum. Hamburg beat Borussia Dortmund 3-0 for a first win since October. Mainz humbled Energie Cottbus 4-1. Alemannia Aachen held Borussia Monchengladbach 0-0. Hannover and Wolfsburg drew 2-2.

In Ligue 1 Lyon claimed a first win of 2007, beating in-form Lorient on Saturday. Fred’s goal was enough for Gerard Houllier’s side.

Lens kept the gap at the top at 11 points as they beat Sochaux 3-1.

Bordeaux beat Marseille 1-0 last night.

Four-goal Steve Savidan helped Valenciennes to a 5-2 away win over Nantes, while Toulouse enjoyed a surprise 1-0 victory over Lille.

Paul Le Guen’s PSG enjoyed a 4-2 victory over Monaco.

In Holland, PSV Eindhoven avoided a third straight defeat but the Eredivisie leaders were held 1-1 at Sparta Rotterdam.

Jason Culina’s strike put PSV ahead but Haris Medunjanin scored for Sparta.

Ajax moved up to second and narrowed the gap to PSV to three points with a 2-1 win at ADO Den Haag, with goals from Johnny Heitinga and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Danny Koevermans and Maarten Martens scored as AZ Alkmaar moved within four points of PSV after a 2-0 win over Willem II.

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