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Real salvage draw at Osasuna Levante win 2-1

BARCELONA, Dec 14, (AP): Ten-man Real Madrid fought back to draw 2-2 at 10-man Osasuna in the Spanish league on Saturday, but still left its title rivals the chance to widen the gap at the top of the standings. Osasuna’s Oriol Riera headed in goals in the 16th and 39th minutes before Madrid’s woes deepened when Sergio Ramos received his second yellow card in the 44th. With Cristiano Ronaldo unable to extend his eight-game scoring run for club and country, midfielder Isco Alarcon pulled one back before halftime and passed for Pepe to head home the 80th-minute equalizer seconds after Osasuna’s Francisco Silva also earned his second booking. Co-leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid lead Madrid by two points. Barcelona hosted Villarreal late Saturday and Atletico hosts Valencia on Sunday.

“The team demonstrated it has a good attitude, but a draw is like a loss for us,” Madrid defender Marcelo said. “We knew that the result wasn’t good enough but we reacted too late.” Madrid’s five-game winning run in the league ended at a ground where it traditionally has trouble getting wins. The powerhouse has only one victory in its last six visits to Reyno de Navarra Stadium, where Osasuna turns up the pressure and physical playing style, urged on by its raucous crowd. Osasuna, which sits just two points above the relegation zone, can boast it has held both Barcelona and Madrid to draws there this season. Madrid started strong, arriving in waves to Osasuna’s area, and Ronaldo had two chances to put his team in front.

But it was Osasuna that struck first when right back Marc Bertran dribbled by his marker before swinging a cross to the far post where Riera was left unmarked to redirect the ball into the net. Madrid momentarily lost both its verve in attack and composure in defense, and both center backs Pepe and Sergio Ramos got yellow cards. Riera was left free to double the hosts’ lead by nodding in the follow-up of Damia Abella’s header from a corner kick that goalkeeper Diego Lopez sprung to palm off his line. And Ramos soon saw his second yellow card on a questionable decision when Osasuna’s Roberto Torres fell after colliding with his arm. Just when Madrid was at its lowest, Ronaldo dribbled into the Osasuna defense and laid off for Isco to place a right-footed strike just inside the upright and pull one back before the break.

Osasuna still appeared set to get the victory after a placid second half until Silva earned himself two yellow cards in a four-minute span. Isco found the hole left in the defense which Pepe exploited to score Madrid’s second. David Barral came off the bench to score two headers and give Levante a 2-1 win at home over Elche on Friday, ending its four-game losing streak in the Spanish league. Levante, which had lost five straight including a Copa del Rey game last weekend, fell behind at its Ciutat de Valencia stadium when Ionut Sapanura opened the scoring for Elche in the 26th minute. But Barral replaced injured striker Baba Diawara in the 38th and three minutes later leveled by expertly nodding in Nabil El Zhar’s cross.

Levante pressed the visitors into their area in the second half, and Elche goalkeeper Antonio “Tono” Rodriguez had to push Nikolas Karabelas’ shot onto his crossbar in the 66th. But Tono was helpless to stop Barral from thumping in the 80th-minute winner when Pedro Rios picked him out charging unmarked through the box with a well-placed cross. It was Levante’s first victory since Oct. 26. Both sides remained in the middle of the standings. “This is a huge boost for us considering the negative streak we were on,” Barral said. The former Sporting Gijon player added that with 20 points, Levante was halfway to its goal of finishing the season with 40, the minimum it believes necessary to avoid relegation.

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