MADRID - Real Madrid's La Liga title hopes
suffered a huge blow with a surprise 1-0 defeat at Osasuna on
Sunday which left Jose Mourinho's side seven points adrift of
Villarreal closed to within six points of Real in third
place when Giuseppe Rossi's spectacular goal gave them a 1-0 win
in a pulsating encounter at Espanyol.
Osasuna's Javier Camunas broke the deadlock against Real
with a shot off the post in the 62nd minute of a typically
bruising battle in the intimidating Reyno de Navarra stadium.
Mourinho responded by throwing new loan signing Emmanuel
Adebayor into the fray, but they were unable to score against a
side who had not won in their previous eight games.
Real's second defeat of the season left them on 51 points
from 21 games, seven behind champions Barca who won 3-0 at
Hercules on Saturday to notch up their 15th consecutive victory.
"There are still a lot of points available, we have to keep
on fighting," Real midfielder Xabi Alonso told Spanish
"It's always a difficult place to play and we knew the first
goal would be vital, it fell to them and that made it even
Real struggled to create chances and missed the guidance of
Alonso, who started on the bench as he recovered from the flu.
Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo had good opportunities
saved by Osasuna's Ricardo Lopez, but the abrasive Navarrans
were a constant threat.
A long punt downfield was poked forward for Camunas to score
after an hour, and Real responded immediately by throwing on
debutant Adebayor, Kaka and Alonso.
Despite Real's late pressure it was Osasuna who came closest
to scoring again, Krisztian Vadocz having a shot blocked on the
line by Alvaro Arbeloa. Osasuna climbed to 16th, three points
above the relegation places.
Villarreal's Italian striker Rossi took his tally for the
season to 12 with a contender for goal of the season,
controlling a long ball into the area at pace and blazing a shot
into the roof of the net from a tight angle in the 45th minute.
Earlier, Gaizka Toquero scored both goals in Athletic
Bilbao's 2-0 win at 10-man Atletico Madrid to increase the
pressure on home coach Quique Sanchez Flores.
Bilbao's balding front-man, who wears the number two shirt,
bagged his first goals of the season, volleying in unmarked just
before the break and sliding in to double the lead in the 64th
Atletico had been playing with 10 men from the 39th minute,
when Luis Perea was harshly sent off after a clumsy challenge on
Fernando Llorente in the area. The Spain striker fired the spot-kick wide.
Sanchez Flores has been feeling the heat with his side out
of Europe and the King's Cup. Sunday's defeat left them seventh
in the standings, five points adrift of sixth-placed Bilbao and
10 short of the Champions League slots.
"Last year was much worse and we ended up winning two
titles," Sanchez Flores told reporters.
"We know we have tough times in front of us but now is when
we need to be men to take things forward."
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