Real win thriller, Villarreal down Sevilla
MADRID, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Real Madrid maintained their lead at the top of the Primera Liga with an unconvincing 4-3 home victory over Real Mallorca at the Bernabeu on Sunday.Brazilian forward Robinho was in sparkling form and twice put Real ahead in the first half, only for Fernando Varela's equalisers to keep Mallorca in the game. Daniel Guiza put the visitors in front for the first time after the break but further goals from Raul and Ruud van Nistelrooy maintained Real's 100 percent home record. Real were a point clear of second-placed Villarreal who beat 10-man Sevilla 3-2 at the Madrigal in the late game. Mexican striker Guillermo Franco headed Villarreal in front from a Marcos Senna freekick after 31 minutes but Sevilla quickly levelled through Mali striker Frederic Kanoute. Sevilla lost Daniel Alves to a red card just before the break and took a surprise lead when Brazilian Luis Fabiano fired in at a corner early in the second half. Franco headed a second for Villarreal from another Senna freekick in the 68th, and Chilean midfielder Matias Fernandez sealed the win from the penalty spot four minutes from time. Real's arch-rivals Barcelona stumbled to a 2-0 defeat at Getafe on Saturday and slip down to third, level on 24 points with Valencia, who hammered promoted Real Murcia 3-0 at home also on Saturday Earlier on Sunday, Espanyol beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at home thanks to a last-minute own goal from Aitor Ocio. Last season's UEFA Cup finalists moved up to fifth place on 22 points, one ahead of Atletico Madrid who were held to a goalless draw at promoted Almeria.
Mallorca were unlucky not to have a penalty early on against Real when Gabriel Heinze handled the ball at a corner.Real took the lead in the 12th minute after Robinho combined well with fullback Marcelo and continued into the area to head in the Brazilian's floated cross. The lead lasted only two minutes before Marcelo failed to cut out Ariel Ibagaza's diagonal ball, allowing Varela to round Iker Casillas and level. Real were back in front in the 17th minute when Wesley Sneijder's pass deflected through to Robinho in an offside position, and the Brazilian scored in the corner. Mallorca defender Jose Carlos Nunes volleyed against the crossbar but it was Varela who equalised again with a stunning 25-metre drive in 37th minute. The visitors took the lead in the 58th when Real's Mahamadou Diarra diverted the ball into the path of Guiza, to curl a shot past Casillas, but Real were level again five minutes later. Robinho beat the fullback down the left and crossed low for Raul to tap in from close range. Raul set up Van Nistelrooy to break through the middle and score the winner in the 73rd minute.