Fortune shines on Ronaldo as Real go top

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2010, 12:39 PM IST

Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo scored a fortunate
first goal of the season with his deflected 75th minute
free-kick proving the winner in a 2-1 win at promoted Real
Sociedad as Real Madrid moved to the top of La Liga for the
first time under Jose Mourinho.

Ronaldo saw his free-kick take a huge deflection off
team-mate Pepe and loop in 15 minutes from time and the
world`s most expensive player seemed embarrassed to celebrate
the winning goal which handed Mourinho his first away win.

Argentine international winger Angel di Maria -- a
25-million-euro summer signing from Benfica -- scored a
memorable first Real goal on 51 minutes only for veteran Raul
Tamudo to equalise as Real conceded their first goal under
Mourinho.

However, Ronaldo had the final say with his freak goal
and Madrid rode their luck to go top -- a point ahead of
Atletico Madrid and Valencia who have played one game less.

Despite the win, Mourinho was far from happy throwing his
water bottle in the dug-out late on.

"It was great to get my first goal and the points in a
tough match against a very good team," said di Maria. "Now
we`ll see what Atletico (Madrid) do against Barcelona."

Champions Barcelona are four points behind Real and
travel to league leaders Atletico on Sunday.

It was Sociedad`s first defeat of the season but the
league newcomers tested Real to the limit in a sensational
atmosphere at the Anoeta stadium and were denied a late
equaliser at 2-2 by goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Mourinho made just one change from the side that
convincingly beat Ajax 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the
Champions League on Wednesday with Sergio Ramos replacing
Alvaro Arbeloa.

It was a special game for Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso
who began his career at hometown club Sociedad and was part of
the Sociedad side that finished league runners-up to Real in
2003.

Real started on the front foot but it was Sociedad who
had the best chances with French midfielder Antoine Griezmann
guilty of two glaring misses.

In the fifth minute Xabi Prieto found Griezmann unmarked
in the penalty area but he headed over the crossbar to the
relief of Casillas.

Sociedad continued to attack and on 25 minutes everyone
was celebrating -- in particular Sociedad coach Martin Lasarte
-- the opening goal only to realise that Griezmann had shot
just wide.

The Frenchman was one-on-one with Casillas but contrived
to shoot wide and let Madrid off the hook again.

Real had long distance efforts from Ronaldo, di Maria and
Alonso to show for their attacks but then needed a last ditch
intervention from Ricardo Carvalho to stop the hosts from
scoring on 31 minutes.

Real were lucky to be level at half-time after Sociedad`s
missed chances, yet, Mourinho refused to change things for the
second half and di Maria shot the visitors ahead on 51 minutes
curling in with his weaker right foot for his first Real goal.

Sociedad showed real character to equalise 10 minutes
later with Real failing to defend a fizzing cross and Tamudo
was on hand to slot in the leveller.

However, Ronaldo`s deflected free-kick 15 minutes from
time sealed a fortunate win with Casillas pulling off a late
save from the hapless Griezmann.

Earlier Danish coach Michael Laudrup enjoyed his first
win in charge of Real Mallorca as the islanders recorded a 2-0
home victory over Osasuna.

Mallorca scored their first goal of the season with a
Chori Castro penalty on 25 minutes and a first club goal from
Dutch midfielder Jonathan de Guzman helping former Barcelona
and Real Madrid star player Laudrup to his maiden league win.

"I can say the same thing as (Jose) Mourinho and that is
that my teams play better in the second season," explained
Laudrup.

"It will come with time, however, before it does we have
to take the points and this is an important victory."

Bureau Report