Numancia give Real a fright

Promoted Numancia twice took the lead before falling 4-3 to the Primera Liga champions Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, left, celebrates with teammate Marcelo Vieira.
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MADRID // Promoted Numancia twice took the lead before falling 4-3 to the Primera Liga champions Real Madrid at the Bernabeu yesterday. The newcomers from Soria, who beat Barcelona 1-0 on the opening day of the season, took an early lead through Juan Carlos Moreno. Jose Barkero restored their advantage just after Guti had levelled for Real. Gonzalo Higuain, Rafael van der Vaart on his league debut, and an own-goal from Domingo Cisma gave the home side what appeared to be a comfortable 4-2 half-time lead.

But Bernd Schuster's side were the team hanging on at the end after Moreno's superb second half free-kick had the visitors chasing an unlikely point in the closing stages. "It was to be expected. These games after international weeks are always the hardest," Schuster said. "When we were 4-2 up we didn't manage the game very well. We deserved to win by more but eased off too much in the second half."

Earlier, the Spain striker Luis Garcia snatched a late winner to give Espanyol a 1-0 away win over Recreativo Huelva and top place in the Primera Liga. Espanyol are the only side with six points from two games, after beating Valladolid 1-0 at home in their season opener. Valencia and Almeria are second and third respectively with four points each after drawing 2-2 in Almeria thanks to Spain striker David Villa's second half equaliser.

Sevilla are fourth after surviving a seven-goal thriller to beat promoted Sporting Gijón 4-3 at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday. Getafe drew 0-0 at home with Real Betis, missing out on the chance to join Espanyol at the top when Juan Albin crashed a late penalty against the crossbar, and the Spain winger Santi Cazorla gave Villarreal a 1-0 home win over Deportivo Coruna. Real, who lost 2-1 at Deportivo Coruna in their opening game, were behind after only seven minutes when Moreno was gifted a free header at a corner.

Guti's long-range effort deflected off a Numancia defender to level the scores at 1-1 in the 19th minute, Real's 5000th goal in league competition. But Numancia's Barkero thumped in a long range effort into the top corner three minutes later, prompting another swift reply from the home side when Ruud van Nistelrooy fed Higuain to level again at 2-2. Van der Vaart's snap shot beat Juan Pablo Colinas at his near post in the 34th and Cisma headed into his own net at a corner just before the break.

Numancia continued to press forward. Moreno curled a superb freekick in over the wall in the 57th minute and Real were against the ropes when Gorka Brit just failed to get a touch on a cross at the back post, in injury time.

Almeria 2-2 Valencia Getafe 0-0 Real Betis Malaga 0-0 Athletic Bilbao Mallorca 1-1 Osasuna Real Madrid 4-3 Numancia Recreativo Huelva 0-1 Espanyol Villarreal 1-0 Deportivo La Coruna *Reuters