Real title bid in tatters after Osasuna defeat

Madrid, Jan 31 (AFP) Real Madrid''s title hopes were lefthanging by a thread after Jose Mourinho''s side suffered ashock 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Osasuna to fallseven points behind leaders Barcelona.

It was Mourinho''s second league defeat in charge asMadrid-born striker Javier Camunas scored the decisive goal on62 minutes to seal an historic win for Osasuna and deal Real''stitle aspirations a hammer blow yesterday.

Even Emmanuel Adebayor, on loan from Manchester City,could not inspire Real who have now dropped 12 points on theroad and have an uphill task if they are to dethrone doublechampions Barcelona.

"I can''t fault the players as they did their job," saidMourinho.

"We didn''t deserve to lose the three points but we lostagainst a team that gave everything and had the whole week toprepare for the match.

"It is always difficult in Pamplona and I don''t thinkmany teams win here. It is a match that you win by being soliddefensively and scoring.

"We had chances but didn''t take them and it is threepoints lost and our second league defeat of the season."

Barcelona made it a record-equalling 15th consecutiveleague win with a 3-0 victory at Hercules on Saturday to matchthe long-standing record of Alfredo di Stefano''s great1960-1961 Real Madrid side.

Real were under pressure to respond and had astar-studded substitutes'' bench with Xabi Alonso, Kaka and newsigning Adebayor ready to be called into action.

Adebayor had to wait for his debut with French forwardKarim Benzema retaining his place after scoring the winninggoal in his last two matches.

Osasuna drew 0-0 with Real in the corresponding fixturelast season and squandered the best chance of the first halfon 32 minutes.

A ball from the left picked out Walter Pandiani but theUruguayan glanced his header over.

Two minutes later Real had their first real sight on goalwith Benzema fizzing in a low shot that goalkeeper RicardoLopez did well to save at his near post.

Lopez then denied Cristiano Ronaldo with his legs in the43rd minute as the two sides went into the interval at 0-0.


Ronaldo was Madrid''s most dangerous player in the second half, firing one shot just wide and then seeing another driveblocked at the last minute.

However, Osasuna were ambitious going forward and tookthe lead on 62 minutes after a mix-up between Real defendersRaul Albiol and Ricardo Carvalho.

Camunas broke the offside trap and thumped his shot pastIker Casillas to delight the home fans.

Mourinho, who was quoted as saying that he wanted toreturn to manage in England on Sunday, responded with a triplesubstitution with Adebayor, Kaka and Alonso all coming on.

Adebayor had a half chance with a header, but it wasOsasuna who should have made it 2-0 with Alvaro Arbeloa savingthe visitors with an 84th minute block to prevent a certaingoal.

Madrid lacked the imagination to open up a well-organisedOsasuna side managed by former Real Madrid legend Jose AntonioCamacho.

In other matches, third-placed Villarreal closed towithin six points of Real with a 1-0 win at Espanyol.

Italian striker Giuseppe Rossi, who recently signed acontract extension until 2016, scored his 12th league goal ofthe season on 44 minutes to decide the match.

It was only Espanyol''s second league defeat at theirCornella-El Prat stadium and the Barcelona-based club staythree points behind fourth-placed Valencia, who have a game inhand against Racing Santander on Monday.

Under-fire Atletico Madrid coach Quique Sanchez Floresfelt the pressure intensify as his side lost 2-0 at home toAthletic Bilbao.

Gaizka Toquero scored in each half, on 45 and 64 minutes,to down 10-man Atletico, who had Colombian defender Luis Pereasent off on 38 minutes for conceding a penalty, andsixth-placed Bilbao move five points clear of Atletico in thetable.

Flores, who got the dreaded vote of confidence from theboard this week, is under extreme pressure with Atletico, whoare already out of the Europa League and Kings Cup, lying 10points off the top four. (AFP) PM

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