MADRID, Oct 23 (Reuters) Real Madrid's players revelled in the sweet taste of revenge after a convincing 2-0 home win over arch-rivals Barcelona in the Primera Liga.
Last season's humiliating 3-0 reverse in the Bernabeu, when fans stood and applauded a Ronaldinho goal, seemed a distant memory as Real put on a passionate performance to inflict a second defeat in five days on Frank Rijkaard's side following their loss to Chelsea in the Champions League.
''It is obvious we were out for revenge. Last year was very painful for us and we really wanted to win this game,'' Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas said after yesterday's match.
''Coach Fabio Capello has made us hungry again and got us working together as a team. We never were in crisis.'' Real were unrecognisable from the side who folded 1-0 away to Getafe just a week ago as they tore into their opponents, taking the lead with a header from Raul after three minutes.
The early goal allowed Capello's side to play his favoured counter-attacking style, and they duly doubled the score just after the re-start, when Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy finished off a swift break down the right from Robinho to make it 2-0 after 50 minutes.
''It was an important victory for us, not only because of what happened last year,'' said Guti.
''The Getafe defeat was a lesson for us. People had questioned the team but we have now reacted well in two big games to beat Steaua Bucharest and Barcelona.'' Captain Raul added: ''We have gained morale and confidence and we know this is the way forward for the team.'' But David Beckham also had to be content with a place on the bench for the sixth time in Real's last seven matches, but eventually came on nine minutes from time to make his 100th appearance in La Liga.
Real, fourth, closed to within two points of the European and Spanish champions, who remain top on goal difference from Valencia after suffering their first league defeat of the season. Sevilla are third on 15 points.
Barca's players took positives from the way they reacted after losing an early goal, but were united in bemoaning their failure to put away chances.
''The team are bitterly disappointed because we could have achieved a better result. We created chances to score but didn't take them,'' said Carles Puyol.
''Now, more than ever, we need to stick together and not lose confidence. We are still top of the table, we have a great team and we are still working hard.'' The Spanish press questioned Rijkaard's decision to not play a holding midfielder, his substitutions, and highlighted Ronaldinho's continuing poor form.
But like Barca's players the press focused on their inability to find the back of the net. They clearly missed the predatory instincts of Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o, who is sidelined for five months with a knee injury.
Eidur Gudjohnsen's first-half miss from Lionel Messi's fine cross was singled out as a perfect example of their profligacy.
Spanish daily El Mundo said: ''Gudjohnsen has the ability to turn strawberries into melons.'' Rijkaard summed it up well himself: ''We lacked bite.'' REUTERS DH BD1606