Real Madrid fight back with flurry of goals

By Mark Elkington, Reuters

Posted at Mar 17 2013 06:24 PM | Updated as of Mar 18 2013 02:24 AM

MADRID - Real Madrid woke from their slumbers with a three-goal blast at the start of the second half as they came back to beat lowly Real Mallorca 5-2 in La Liga on Saturday.

Third from bottom Mallorca twice went in front with headers against a seemingly distracted Madrid at the Bernabeu before the hosts rallied.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Gonzalo Higuain, with his second of the game, netted in a six-minute spell and substitute Karim Benzema notched a fifth goal at the end to leave coach Jose Mourinho's side in second place with 61 points and 10 games left.

A seventh straight victory in all competitions left the champions 10 points behind leaders Barcelona who host Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

"In the first half we lacked intensity but we were brilliant in the second," Madrid director Emilio Butragueno told Spanish television.

"The changes by the coach made the team much more offensive."

French winger Antoine Griezmann scored twice, the second with a spectacular volley, as Real Sociedad battered visiting Real Valladolid 4-1 to go fourth with 47 points.

Sociedad are 10 points behind third-placed Atletico Madrid, who visit Osasuna on Sunday, and two ahead of Valencia who climbed to fifth with a 3-0 win over 10-man Real Betis.

Valencia took the lead with a Roberto Soldado penalty in the 16th minute, after Betis defender Antonio Amaya fouled him on the edge of the area and was sent off.

Five minutes from time Betis defender Paulao turned a Sergio Canales cross into his own net and Jonas completed the scoring with a curling shot at the end.

Champions League quarter-finalists Malaga, sixth with 44 points, host Espanyol on Sunday.

Getafe are eighth with 42 points, behind seventh-placed Betis, after Borja scored the only goal in a 1-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao.

Mallorca struck first at the Bernabeu when the lively Giovani dos Santos whipped in a cross and Emilio Nsue nodded the ball in from the edge of the area in the sixth minute.

Madrid lined up with an unfamiliar midfield that included Modric and Pepe and the two combined well to help set up Higuain for the equaliser in the 15th minute.

Mourinho's team have often struggled at set pieces this season and they were undone again in the 21st minute when Alejandro Alfaro was left unmarked at the far post to head home a flicked-on corner.


Madrid displayed a different attitude after the break with Mesut Ozil replacing youth-team striker Alvaro Morata. A corner from the German found Ronaldo in the 52nd minute and he nodded his 27th league goal of the season.

Modric fired Madrid in front from long range two minutes later and Ozil dribbled to the touchline before pulling the ball back for Higuain to make it 4-2.

Argentine Higuain then squared the ball for Benzema to walk the fifth goal into an empty net in stoppage time.

Sociedad extended their unbeaten league run to 10 games with a devastating display of attacking football against Valladolid that kept them on course for a shot at European football next season.

After a tight opening period Sociedad scored three times in the last 13 minutes of the first half, the 21-year-old Griezmann tucking away the first from close range in the 33rd.

Imanol Agirretxe curled a shot into the top corner soon after and Griezmann brought the house down with his strike just before the break.

He raced through the middle on to a long floated pass from David Zurutuza, controlled the ball with one touch and before it hit the ground rifled a shot past Daniel Hernandez.

A scything move of one-touch passes started by Griezmann saw Xabi Prieto poke Sociedad's fourth straight after the restart and Ruben Pardo also rattled the crossbar.

Valladolid snatched a well-worked goal through Javi Guerra at the end as they stayed 12th with 35 points. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)