Mourinho home run ends as Sporting stun Real

AFP, Saturday 2 Apr 2011

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho saw his infamous league home record come to an end with unfashionable Sporting Gijon defeating his Real side 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday to put a huge dent in their title hopes

Real Madrid

Miguel de las Cuevas stunned Real with a 78th minute winner as Mourinho lost his first home league match in over nine years with his last loss back in February 2003 when his FC Porto side lost 2-1 at home to Beira Mar.

Real, who had won their previous 14 home league matches this season, stay five points behind arch rivals Barcelona in the Spanish first division and the champions can open that advantage to eight points with victory at Villarreal later on Saturday.

The return of Argentine international forward Gonzalo Higuain, out of action with a back problem since late November, was the only positive on a terrible night for Real, who must pick themselves up for Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Tottenham Hotspur at the Bernabeu.

Madrid were without top-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Marcelo through injury and spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso was also missing through suspension.

In the first minute after Portuguese centre-back Ricardo Carvalho had the ball in the net, however, the effort was ruled out for a foul.

Sporting had the better chances in a disappointing first half with Andre Castro firing just over on 35 minutes after a training ground routine from a corner kick.

A mix-up between Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas and his defenders almost allowed Nacho Novo to score, but the hosts averted the danger.

The big sides often struggle after the exertion of international games and Madrid were lacklustre but started the second half with some much-needed urgency.

Mourinho acted in the 56th minute introducing Argentine striker Higuain, who had not played since November 20 due to back trouble that saw him undergo surgery in January.

Just three minutes after coming on Higuain, who scored the winning goal in the 1-0 win at Gijon, had a clear opening but his fierce shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

Real were pressing but then conceded a shock goal with de las Cuevas receiving a cut back on 78 minutes and the former Atletico Madrid man drilled a low shot past Casillas.

On 82 minutes Khedira somehow failed to equalise metres from goal as Sporting breathed a huge sigh of relief while Mourinho was left visibly furious on the touchline.

Emmanuel Adebayor and Higuain missed chances in a frantic finale as Sporting held on to become the first team to win at the Bernabeu this season and end Mourinho's historic home run.

Champions Barcelona travel to third-placed Villarreal later on Saturday in the standout fixture of the weekend.

It is a crucial game ahead of the league 'Clasico' against Real and Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola must decide whether to take a risk on Argentine Lionel Messi, who had been struggling with a leg injury.

Barcelona dropped two crucial points in their last away outing with a 1-1 draw at Sevilla and the pacesetters will be desperate for three points to capitalise on Real's slip against Gijon before the two teams meet on the weekend 16/17 April.

Villarreal are a full 24 points behind Barcelona in third place but have an impressive home record, losing just once at home in the league all season.

Elsewhere, Valencia travel to Getafe on Saturday aiming to bounce back from two successive league defeats that have seen them fall to fourth below Villarreal on goal difference.

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