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Real Madrid vs. AC Milan in Dubai

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Beckham now the toast of Madrid after return

MADRID, Feb 11 (Reuters) - David Beckham earned the plaudits of his team mates, Fabio Capello and the Spanish media after he marked his return with a goal that helped Real Madrid to a 2-1 comeback victory at Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Beckham, sidelined for a month by Capello following his announcement that he would join MLS side LA Galaxy at the end of the season, cancelled out Sociedad's early lead with a trademark free kick eight minutes before halftime.

Ruud van Nistelrooy secured the victory with a brave header, three minutes into the second half to give Real their first points in three games.

'Beckham spares the life of his executioner,' was Marca's verdict on the midfielder's goal, saying that Capello was in debt to the former England captain after his performance.

'A gift from Beckham to Capello,' was El Pais's description of the goal, while most papers were agreed that the victory had saved the former Juventus coach from dismissal.

Capello, who said Beckham's professional attitude in training had persuaded him to reverse his decision to exclude him for the rest of the season, was delighted with his performance.

'You have to be happy when players score important goals and David's goal was very important,' the Italian told a news conference after the game. 'He played a great game and deserves the credit.

'As I said before, the mark of an intelligent person is one who knows how to rectify his mistakes.'

Van Nistelrooy also heaped praise on his former Manchester United colleague. 'Beckham has been fantastic, his attitude has been brilliant,' said the Dutchman.

'When you go for a month without playing it isn't easy to be at your best but he always trains hard and has a very positive attitude. That's why you can always bet on him. It was a great day for him.'