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Dec 8, 2012

Mesut Ozil rallies Real Madrid to win

Mesut Ozil's brace was decisive as Real Madrid twice came from behind to win at Valladolid 3-2 on Saturday.

Manucho twice put Valladolid ahead from corners, but Madrid equalized through first Karim Benzema and then, on the stroke of halftime, Ozil.

The German then curled home a sublime second-half free kick, his fifth goal in seven games, to seal the points.

Cristiano Ronaldo fired over from long range in the second minute, but it was Valladolid who took an early lead.

Patrick Ebert's seventh-minute corner was not cleared and, when the ball was turned back across goal, Manucho was on hand to fire home from two yards.

But Madrid was gifted an equalizer when Mikel Balenziaga's underhit pass and Marc Valiente's slip presented the ball to Jose Callejon, who set up Benzema for a tap-in.

But another Ebert corner saw Manucho rise unchallenged at the near post to head his and Valladolid's second and restore the hosts' lead.

Callejon wasted a chance for an immediate leveller on that occasion when he mis-hit a lob wide off his shin and Ronaldo forced a good low save from Daniel Hernandez.

Valladolid lost key man Ebert to a hamstring injury, with Alberto Bueno taking his place in the 30th minute.

Valiente made a brilliant goal-saving challenge to deny Benzema his second, while Hernandez fielded the Frenchman's bouncing shot following a corner.

But Madrid equalized seconds before halftime when Ozil and Benzema linked up, with the latter's backheel setting up the Germany international to finish left-footed.

Real boss Jose Mourinho sent on Angel Di Maria at halftime in place of Nacho Fernandez, with Callejon dropping in at left back.

Sergio Ramos headed Xabi Alonso's free kick wide, but Oscar Gonzalez twice went close for Valladolid, including an effort that Iker Casillas fumbled around the post.

Mourinho made another bold attacking substitution just after the hour, replacing Alvaro Arbeloa with Luka Modric and dropping Alonso in at center back.

Ramos had a goal disallowed despite springing from an onside position, though at least some of the four Madrid players in offside positions were surely active.

But the visitors were soon ahead for the first time as Henrique Sereno fouled Benzema and Ozil curled in the resulting free-kick via the underside of the crossbar.

Mourinho immediately took steps to rebalance his increasingly lopsided XI as he replaced Benzema with another Frenchman, defender Raphael Varane.

Manucho was surprisingly withdrawn 13 minutes from time, with Javi Guerra taking his place.

Hernandez made a superb reaction save from Ramos' header and easily fielded Ronaldo's shot, but Bueno's low shot at the other end was easy for Casillas as Madrid held on.

Earlier, Malaga moved above Betis into fourth spot -- for at least 24 hours -- as goals from Joaquin, Javier Saviola, Ignacio Camacho and Roque Santa Cruz saw it thrash Granada 4-0 at La Rosaleda.

Elsewhere, Ernesto Valverde's first La Liga match in charge of Valencia ended in a 1-0 win at Osasuna, with Roberto Soldado netting the game's only goal 11 minutes into the second half in Pamplona.

The win was Los Che's first on the road in La Liga this term, with Mauricio Pellegrino having paid the price for the poor form when he was sacked earlier in the week after the club picked up only two points from their first seven away games.

Finally, Carlos Martinez's stoppage-time header salvaged a 1-1 draw for Real Sociedad as it stretched its unbeaten run to five league games with a point against Getafe at Anoeta.

The game suddenly came to life in the final few minutes when Angel Lafita nodded home from Jaime Gavilan's cross on 87 minutes, but Sociedad responded immediately as Martinez rose highest at the far post to convert Alberto de la Bella's cross.

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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