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Rediff.com  » Sports » Real Madrid score dramatic win over Espanyol

Real Madrid score dramatic win over Espanyol

May 13, 2007 07:37 IST

Real Madrid snatched a last-gasp 4-3 victory over Espanyol on Saturday to go top of the Primera Liga for the first time since September.

The nine-times European champions trailed 3-1 at the interval after a 19-minute hat-trick from Uruguayan striker Walter Pandiani.

But Real fought back when captain Raul netted four minutes after the restart and substitute Jose Antonio Reyes equalised eight minutes later.

Espanyol, who face fellow Spaniards Sevilla in Wednesday's UEFA Cup final in Glasgow, looked to have done enough to earn a draw until an 89th-minute strike from Gonzalo Higuain gave the hosts victory.

The Argentine striker sent the Bernabeu crowd wild when he squeezed a low shot past keeper Carlos Kameni after exchanging a sharp one-two with Reyes.

Real (66 points) lead the table by one point from Barcelona, who play their game in hand at home to struggling Real Betis on Sunday.

Sevilla, a point further back in third spot, warmed up for their UEFA Cup defence with a 2-1 win at home to Recreativo Huelva.

Italian midfielder Enzo Maresca put Sevilla in front in the 13th minute when he fired low past keeper Bertrand Laquait from the edge of the area.

Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano made it 2-0 with a well-taken penalty before midfielder Jesus Vazquez pulled one back for Recreativo with another spot kick two minutes from time.

Fabio Capello's side made the early running at the Bernabeu, pinning a largely second-string Espanyol back in their area and giving the visitors several scares.

Real though fell victim to the first of Espanyol's rapier-like counter-attacks in the 15th minute.

GUTI ROBBED

Jonatas robbed Guti in midfield, slipped the ball to Francisco Rufete on the right flank and the winger curled a superb pass behind the defence for Pandiani to defeat a helpless Iker Casillas in goal.

Real were hit by an almost identical strike 11 minutes later, the same two players carving their way through the midfield before Pandiani volleyed in at the far post.

Capello's men pulled one back through Ruud van Nistelrooy's 21st goal of the season as he fired home from close range after Roberto Carlos had flicked on a neat cross by Raul.

Pandiani struck again in the 34th minute, this time stroking the ball in from the edge of the area after Moha had bamboozled the home defence.

Real threw everything at Espanyol after the break and made it 3-2 when Raul drilled the ball under Kameni following a clever backheel from Van Nistelrooy.

Reyes then slotted into an open goal after Kameni collided with one of his defenders as he failed to claim the ball.

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