Photo: Real Madrid v. Real Valladolid (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid toughed out a 3-2 come-from-behind road victory over Real Valladolid on Saturday thanks in large measure to the play of German midfielder Mesut Ozil, keeping its fading Spanish league hopes alive.
Valladolid opened the scoring at Jose Zorrilla stadium in the sixth minute when Angolan striker Manucho seized on the indecision of Real Madrid‘s defense in the area after a corner by Patrick Ebert and poked a loose ball into the back of the net.
Jose Mourinho’s side didn’t need much time to even the score, however. Five minutes later, Jose Callejon took advantage of a slip by defenseman Marc Valiente and set up French forward Karim Benzema for a goal.
But Valladolid snagged the lead back in the 21st minute when Ebert and Manucho hooked up once again. This time, the Angolan headed in a corner by Ebert past Iker Casillas for a 2-1 lead.
There was then a brief lag in the scoring and it appeared that Valladolid would head to the dressing room with a slight advantage. Just before halftime, though, Ozil took matters upon himself and got the equalizer with a splendid solitary effort.
After the intermission, Real Madrid took control of midfield due in part to the absence of Ebert, who had to come off the field after suffering an unspecified muscle ailment.
Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo seemed a likely candidate to finally give his side the edge on the scoreboard, but he was unable to convert on his opportunities, while an apparent go-ahead goal by defenseman Sergio Ramos was nullified due to a dubious offside call.
But Ozil saved the day in the 72nd minute with a brilliant left-footed free kick off the crossbar to give Madrid a desperately needed three points in the Spanish league standings, which FC Barcelona leads with a six-point margin over Atletico Madrid.
Real Madrid is now eight points back with 32 points, but the two teams it trails still have matches to play on Sunday.
In other action in the Spanish league on Saturday, Malaga trounced Granada 4-0, Real Sociedad and Getafe tied 1-1 and Espanyol drew 2-2 with Sevilla.