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Fortune shines on Ronaldo as Real go top of Spanish league

SoccerNews in La Liga 18 Sep 2010

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored a fortunate first goal of the season with his deflected 75th minute free-kick proving the winner in a 2-1 win at promoted Real Sociedad as Real Madrid moved to the top of La Liga for the first time under Jose Mourinho.

Ronaldo saw his free-kick take a huge deflection off team-mate Pepe and loop in 15 minutes from time and the world’s most expensive player seemed embarrassed to celebrate the winning goal which handed Mourinho his first away win.

Argentine international winger Angel di Maria — a 25-million-euro summer signing from Benfica — scored a memorable first Real goal on 51 minutes only for veteran Raul Tamudo to equalise as Real conceded their first goal under Mourinho.

However, Ronaldo had the final say with his freak goal and Madrid rode their luck to go top — a point ahead of Atletico Madrid and Valencia who have played one game less.

Despite the win, Mourinho was far from happy throwing his water bottle in the dug-out late on.

“It was great to get my first goal and the points in a tough match against a very good team,” said di Maria. “Now we’ll see what Atletico (Madrid) do against Barcelona.”

Champions Barcelona are four points behind Real and travel to league leaders Atletico on Sunday.

It was Sociedad’s first defeat of the season but the league newcomers tested Real to the limit in a sensational atmosphere at the Anoeta stadium and were denied a late equaliser at 2-2 by goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Mourinho made just one change from the side that convincingly beat Ajax 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League on Wednesday with Sergio Ramos replacing Alvaro Arbeloa.

It was a special game for Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso who began his career at hometown club Sociedad and was part of the Sociedad side that finished league runners-up to Real in 2003.

Real started on the front foot but it was Sociedad who had the best chances with French midfielder Antoine Griezmann guilty of two glaring misses.

In the fifth minute Xabi Prieto found Griezmann unmarked in the penalty area but he headed over the crossbar to the relief of Casillas.

Sociedad continued to attack and on 25 minutes everyone was celebrating — in particular Sociedad coach Martin Lasarte — the opening goal only to realise that Griezmann had shot just wide.

The Frenchman was one-on-one with Casillas but contrived to shoot wide and let Madrid off the hook again.

Real had long distance efforts from Ronaldo, di Maria and Alonso to show for their attacks but then needed a last ditch intervention from Ricardo Carvalho to stop the hosts from scoring on 31 minutes.

Real were lucky to be level at half-time after Sociedad’s missed chances, yet, Mourinho refused to change things for the second half and di Maria shot the visitors ahead on 51 minutes curling in with his weaker right foot for his first Real goal.

Sociedad showed real character to equalise 10 minutes later with Real failing to defend a fizzing cross and Tamudo was on hand to slot in the leveller.

However, Ronaldo’s deflected free-kick 15 minutes from time sealed a fortunate win with Casillas pulling off a late save from the hapless Griezmann.

Earlier Danish coach Michael Laudrup enjoyed his first win in charge of Real Mallorca as the islanders recorded a 2-0 home victory over Osasuna.

Mallorca scored their first goal of the season with a Chori Castro penalty on 25 minutes and a first club goal from Dutch midfielder Jonathan de Guzman helping former Barcelona and Real Madrid star player Laudrup to his maiden league win.

“I can say the same thing as (Jose) Mourinho and that is that my teams play better in the second season,” explained Laudrup.

“It will come with time, however, before it does we have to take the points and this is an important victory.”

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