Real Madrid comes back to beat Mallorca
BARCELONA, Spain (AP)
Real Madrid trailed twice before fighting back with three goals in a seven-minute span to beat Mallorca 5-2 on Saturday and avoid another slip-up to a low-profile Spanish league side.
Mallorca led 2-1 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after goals from Emilio Nsue and Alejandro Alfaro, both set up by Giovani dos Santos, with Gonzalo Higuain scoring in between for the hosts.
After a sluggish first half, Cristiano Ronaldo sparked Madrid to life with an equalizer in the 51st that took his league tally to 27 goals this season.
Luka Modric put Madrid ahead three minutes later with a screamer, similar to his Champions League goal against Manchester United, and Higuain added another in the 57th.
Higuain then set up Karim Benzema to polish off the rout in stoppage time.
''We knew that Mallorca was playing well recently and they took the lead twice, but the important thing is that the team was able to pull out the win,'' said Higuain. ''We need to keep winning so Barcelona can't relax.''
While getting big wins against major opponents like Barcelona and United, Madrid has seen its title defense undermined due to poor showings to modest Spanish teams this season.
It trails leader Barcelona by 10 points after losing to opponents such as Getafe, Granada, Real Betis, and Sevilla plsu drawing at home to Osasuna and Espanyol this season.
And it looked like the same pattern of being caught off guard would repeat itself in the first 45 minutes of Saturday's game, until Madrid reacted and quickly imposed itself on the relegation-threatened visitors.
Giovani created Mallorca's sixth-minute opener when he swung a cross in that Nsue sent bouncing into the corner of the net with sharply taken header.
Higuain leveled for Madrid in the 15th from a move started by Modric and a nifty lay-off pass from Pepe.
Madrid's goal didn't change the flow of the match, however, and Alfaro netted his fourth goal in three games by heading in Giovani's corner after Pedro Bigas had flicked it to the far post.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, was growing visibly annoyed. The Portugal forward slammed his fist into the turf at one moment and threw his arms up in frustration several times as his side failed to find its verve.
Apparently displeased as his star player, coach Jose Mourinho sent on Mesut Oezil and Benzema at halftime.
But it fell to Ronaldo to pull Madrid level again when he met Oezil's corner at the near post and headed it beyond goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.
Madrid erupted and Mallorca was soon overrun.
Modric put Madrid in front for the first time with a blistering strike from outside the area that struck just inside the upright.
Oezil then picked out Higuain arriving unmarked in the area to fire in Madrid's fourth of the night. Higuain renounced a chance at a hat trick by slipping the ball for Benzema to score in the final moments.