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Real Betis beat Zaragoza to move to top of La Liga

Associated Press
Sep 23, 2011 at 09:10am IST

Barcelona: Roque Santa Cruz scored twice to lead 10-man Real Betis to a thrilling 4-3 win over Zaragoza on Thursday as the newly-promoted Andalusian side moved top of the Spanish league standings.

Goals from Santa Cruz and Salva Sevilla - from the penalty spot - after just 12 minutes set Betis on their way to match the best-ever start of a promoted club with four straight victories.

Former Celtic defender Efrain Juarez pulled one back for Zaragoza before half-time, but Benat Etxebarria stroked home another penalty in the 47th and Santa Cruz headed in his second goal two minutes later.

Betis beat Zaragoza to move to top of La Liga

Fans of the newly-promoted club find themselves top of the Spanish league standings after four games (Getty Images)

However, the game then swung Zaragoza's way after Betis goalkeeper Castro Barriga was sent off with 20 minutes to play for pulling forward Luis Garcia down outside the area, with the goal wide open.

Zaragoza pressed forward and substitute Juan Carlos Perez gave the visitors hope with two late goals, but Betis held on during the final 10 minutes for the memorable win.

"I am very happy about the beginning of the season," said Santa Cruz, who arrived in Seville this summer on loan from Manchester City. "The type of football played here suits me well. Winning a game suffering like this at the end will help us grow more as a team."

Earlier, an injury-time winner from veteran striker Walter Pandiani gave Espanyol a 1-0 victory over Getafe as the Barcelona-based side kept its perfect home record.

Getafe remained winless with just one point from four games.

Betis lead the La Liga standings with 12 points. Valencia, who drew 2-2 with defending champions Barcelona on Wednesday, are two points behind.

Malaga have nine points after dealing Athletic Bilbao their third straight defeat, while Barcelona, Sevilla and Levante are next with eight points.

Real Madrid are off to their worst start since the 2005-2006 season after being held to a 0-0 draw at Racing Santander on Thursday. The Spanish powerhouse has seven points - even with Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad.

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