Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Ozil double earns Real victory

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MADRID: Mesut Ozil netted a superb double to fire Real Madrid to a 3-2 comeback win at Real Valladolid and lift Jose Mourinho’s side within two points of second-placed Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

Madrid looked to be heading for another setback, after defeat at Real Betis two weeks ago, as they twice fell behind to first-half goals from Angola forward Manucho.

However, Karim Benzema and Ozil levelled for the visitors before the break and their Germany midfielder then stroked a delicious left-foot free kick in off the crossbar for a 72nd-minute winner.

“This is the Ozil we all know and we all want to see,” assistant Real coach Aitor Karanka told a news conference.

“The capacity of the team to fight back, something they had to do twice today, was the most memorable thing about the match,” he added.

It was a classy performance from playmaker Ozil, who has shown similar flashes of brilliance but lacked consistency since joining from Werder Bremen in 2010.

Third-placed Real, who are chasing a second straight title but have already lost three times this season, have 32 points from 15 matches.

Atletico are at home to Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday while unbeaten leaders Barcelona, who have a record 40 points, visit fifth-placed Betis in Sunday’s late kickoff.

Erratic Malaga climbed to fourth after Joaquin, Javier Saviola, Ignacio Camacho and Roque Santa Cruz struck in a 4-0 home win over Granada in the Andalusian derby.

Through to the last 16 of the Champions League on their debut in the competition, Qatar-owned Malaga had lost three and drawn one of their previous five La Liga games but victory at the Rosaleda stadium gave them 25 points.

Valencia’s new coach Ernesto Valverde enjoyed a winning start in his first game in charge when his side won 1-0 at struggling Osasuna in the late game.

Valencia, who sacked Mauricio Pellegrino after a rocky start to their La Liga campaign, climbed to ninth on 21 points while Osasuna are 16th on 13, a point above the relegation places.

Manucho gave Valladolid a surprise seventh-minute lead when Madrid failed to clear a corner and he smashed a shot past goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas.

Real’s Jose Callejon then picked up the ball after a slip by Marc Valiente and fed forward Benzema to level five minutes later before Manucho nipped ahead of Sergio Ramos and thumped home a header from another corner in the 22nd.

Madrid were level again on the stroke of halftime when Ozil exchanged passes with Benzema and squeezed a shot under Valladolid goalkeeper Dani Hernandez.

Both teams had chances in an open and entertaining second half before Ozil’s free kick settled the game.

In other matches, third from bottom Granada made the livelier start on a treacherous Malaga pitch, but still lost 4-0.

Eighth-placed Real Sociedad and Getafe, in sixth, exchanged late goals in a 1-1 draw in San Sebastian. Angel Lafita nodded in a cross to put the visitors in front, but Sociedad’s Carlos Martinez headed home in added time.

Valencia came away with a 1-0 victory at Osasuna in an earlier match. (Reuters)

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