Controversial win leaves Real Madrid second in Spain

January 19th, 2009 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Jan 19 (DPA) Real Madrid came from behind to beat bottom team 10-man Osasuna 3-1 in a controversial encounter that left them at the second place in the Spanish Liga.Second-half goals from Sergio Ramos, Gonzalo Higuain and Arjen Robben turned the tables on hapless Osasuna, who had taken a shock lead through Javad Nekounam here Sunday.

The never-say-die win should calm the Estadio Bernabeu after a traumatic week that saw the resignation of president Ramon Calderon over the fake assembly delegates scandal.

Real are again level with Sevilla, both with 38 points from 19 games, with a superior goal difference. On Saturday Sevilla beat Numancia 1-0 on a late Renato goal.

Real and Sevilla are 12 points behind record-breaking leaders Barcelona, who thrashed Deportivo Coruna 5-0 Saturday.

Nekounam headed Osasuna into a surprise lead in the 20th minute on a centre from Jaroslav Plasil. Real looked slow and uninspired throughout the first half.

The game changed five minutes into the second half, when Real made it 1-1. Sergio Ramos tried a speculative long shot, and Osasuna keeper Roberto was deceived by the bounce.

In the 64th minute, the lively Robben centred for Higuain to make it 2-1.

But the Estadio Bernabeu was not impressed, and there were more jeers than cheers for Juande Ramos’ team. Seven minutes from time, Osasuna were denied a second clear penalty, and midfielder Juanfran was sent off for protesting.

In injury time, Robben made it 3-1 with a weak shot, of which Roberto made another mess.

The visitors left the field moaning about the referee, while Real left with more relief than satisfaction.

Real sporting director Pedja Mijatovic admitted that “the referee has harmed Osasuna,” but claimed that “we were fair winners.”

Mijatovic said: “These were three fundamental points, in order to continue with our run of victories.”

“We didn’t play really well this evening,” said Sergio Ramos, “but what is important is that we have scored our fourth straight win.”

The cruel defeat leaves Osasuna rock bottom with just 13 points. Real and Sevilla are four points ahead of Valencia, who lost 3-2 late Sunday at Athletic Bilbao on a late penalty from Spain striker Fernando Llorente.

Valencia’s Manuel Fernandes was sent off for committing the injury-time penalty on Javi Martinez.

Fifth-placed Villarreal are now just one point below Valencia, after beating second-from-bottom Mallorca 2-0 Sunday, with first-half goals from Joan Capdevila and Guiseppe Rossi.

Malaga, meanwhile, moved up to joint sixth with a 4-0 thrashing of troubled Espanyol, who stay third from bottom.

Malaga are level on 31 points with Atletico Madrid, who battled out a 1-1 draw in Almeria in Sunday’s late game.

Kalu Uche gave Almeria an early lead, and Florent Sinama Pongolle levelled for Atletico, who had Ever Banega sent off at the end.

In Sunday’s other games, Getafe lost 1-0 at home to Racing Santander, Recreativo Huelva beat Sporting Gijon 2-0, and Betis won 3-1 in Valladolid.

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