Barcelona: Midfielder Mesut Oezil scored two exquisite goals to give Real Madrid a 3-2 comeback win at promoted Valladolid in the Spanish league on Saturday. Madrid rebounded from their last away loss at Real Betis with a valuable three points that provisionally cut the gap with Barcelona to eight points before the league leader's tough visit on Sunday to the Seville-based side.
Jose Mourinho's star-studded squad struggled to overcome two first-half goals by Manucho, who dominated both areas in attack and with his defensive help on set-pieces. Karim Benzema and Oezil scored to pull Madrid even after Manucho had put Valladolid ahead twice to end the first half 2-2. Knowing the defending champions could not drop any more points, Mourinho threw on extra attacking players as Madrid's nerves began to fray with Cristiano Ronaldo being booked for complaining.
Valladolid held firm and made their own incursions into Madrid's area until defender Henrique Sereno conceded a dangerous free kick on the edge of the area. Instead of Ronaldo, who had scored from a free kick in last weekend's win over Atletico Madrid, Oezil stepped up and curled an unstoppable free kick off the underside of the crossbar in the 72nd minute to grab the victory.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Malaga thrashed struggling Granada 4-0 at home to provisionally rise into fourth place, while Real Sociedad defender Carlos Martinez scored an injury-time equalizer to secure a 1-1 home draw with Getafe. Madrid youth team player Jose "Nacho" Fernandez started at left back with Fabiano Coentrao and Marcelo injured. Mourinho replaced him at halftime with Angel Di Maria, and shifted forward Jose Callejon back into defense.
Valladolid struck first through Manucho's seventh-minute goal. Patrick Ebert swung in a corner kick that two Valladolid players touched to set up the Angola striker to push into the net from inside the six-yard box. The cheers at Jose Zorilla Stadium were silenced five minutes later when Callejon's pressure paid off. The former Espanyol forward pounced on Mikel Balenziaga's poor pass, drew goalkeeper Daniel Hernandez off his line and passed for Benzema to score.
Manucho put the hosts back in front in the 22nd minute as he held off Sergio Ramos with ease and powered in Ebert's corner kick for his second close-range goal of the match. Valladolid lost Ebert to an apparent leg injury in the 26th minute, moments before Ronaldo hit a dipping strike Hernandez did well to push beyond his post. Valladolid looked set to go into halftime with the lead until Oezil dribbled through various defenders before laying off for Benzema, who returned the ball with a nifty back-heeled pass for Oezil to roll under Hernandez in the 45th minute.
After soaking up Madrid's pressure to start the second half, Oscar Gonzalez, Valladolid's top scorer, drew a save from goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 60th. Mourinho sent on playmaker Luka Modric in the 62nd for defender Alvaro Arbeloa, leaving Madrid with only two natural defenders. After Valladolid failed to take advantage of Madrid's thin backline, Oezil looped a perfect strike over the defensive wall that left Hernandez without hope of saving.
It was Madrid's third win in its last eight visits to Valladolid, which remained in seventh place after just their second home loss this season. Coach Ernesto Valverde was to debut on Valencia's sideline at Osasuna late on Saturday.