MADRID: Renato scored with a late header on Sunday for Sevilla to withstand a spirited second-half rally from Real Madrid to win 4-3 in the Spanish football league, leaving the two-time defending champion Madrid trailing leader Barcelona by nine points.
Meanwhile in the Italian Serie ‘A,’ a second-half header by Kaka, which took a touch from Catania defender Lorenzo Stovini on the way into the net, ended AC Milan’s four-match winless run in all competitions on Sunday.
Before the goal, the Catania goalkeeper Albano Bizarri made an excellent save to keep out an Alexandre Pato free-kick, while Christian Abbiati did well to deny Giuseppe Mascara a late equaliser.
In Spain, Renato rose over Fabio Cannavaro in the 85th minute to head in Frederic Kanoute’s low cross after Madrid had hit back from 3-1 down to draw level at 3-3.
Madrid coach Bernd Schuster all but conceded the title afterward with his team travelling to Barcelona next Saturday for the “classico.”
Barcelona, which thrashed third-place Valencia 4-0 on Saturday to stay unbeaten in 20 overall matches, leads with 35 points.
Villarreal has 29, Sevilla and Valencia are on 27 and Madrid has 26.
Kanoute had coolly slotted past goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 39th for Sevilla to lead by two goals and resulted in Madrid being whistled off at halftime by 80,000 spectators.
The host, played with little unity in the first half, rallied after quick goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Fernando Gago. But Robben was red-carded in the 78th as Sevilla won just its second game in its past 21 league visits to the Spanish capital.
“We made life complicated to win the game,” Schuster said. “Without a doubt, we did things poorly, but also well. This isn’t all bad luck, you have to go out looking for luck, which we need.”
Sevilla took advantage of Madrid’s shaky defence from the third minute, when Casillas tipped Jesus Navas’ cross straight into the path of Adriano, who slotted in at the near post. Raul Gonzalez leveled for Madrid in the 19th after heading Jose Maria “Guti” Gutierrez’s quickly taken free kick in at the near post.
But Ndri Romaric quieted the Santiago Bernabeu crowd three minutes later after getting over Fabio Cannavaro to head home.
Rafael van der Vaart forced Sevilla ’keeper Andres Palop into several saves after that, but Madrid was shaken by the second goal and sat back as the visitors patiently spread the ball while looking for space.
That came when two Madrid defenders rushed over to block Renato’s shot at the top of the area, the rebound fell to the unmarked Kanoute and he slid it past Casillas. Calls for Madrid president Ramon Calderon to quit also rang out as the players left the field at halftime under steady rain.
Higuain started the comeback in the 67th with his 10th league goal by lashing a right-footed shot from far outside the area past Palop. His Argentina teammate, Gago, then turned Guti’s free kick in with a header two minutes later. Palop denied Raul in the 73rd but couldn’t reach a rebound four minutes later as Higuain slid to stab the ball off the crossbar.
Sunday’s results: Spanish league: Real Mallorca 2 (Navarro 15, Jurado 35) lost to Recreativo Huelva 3 (Ruben 24, Adrian 42, Javi Fuego 53); Osasuna 3 (Dady 17, 56, Nekounam 42) drew with Valladolid 3 (Goitom 59, Miguel Flano 64-og, Ogbeche 84); Deportivo La Coruna 2 (Lafita 66, Omar Bravo 69-pen) bt Malaga 0; Numancia 2 (Del Pino 19, Goiria 51) bt Almeria 1 (Solari 11-pen); Racing Santander 1 (Colsa 82) drew with Athletic Bilbao 1 (Yeste 49); Real Betis 1 (Emana 56) drew with Espanyol 1 (Corominas 70); Real Madrid 3 (Raul 18, Higuain 66, Gago 68) lost to Sevilla 4 (Adriano 3, Romaric 21, Kanoute 38, Renato 84).
Italian Serie ‘A’: AC Milan 1 (Kaka 65) bt Catania 0; Atalanta 3 (Valdes 20, Doni 78, Vieri 88) bt Udinese 0; Cagliari 1 (Fini 34) bt Palermo 0; Lecce 1 (Cacia 83) lost to Juventus 2 (Giovinco 57, Amauri 90); Napoli 2 (Maggio 61, Denis 72) bt Siena 0; Reggina 2 (Corradi 39, Barreto 56) drew with Bologna 2 (Valiani 52, Di Vaio 60); Torino 1 (Rosina 76-pen) lost to Fiorentina 4 (Mutu 3, Gilardino 43, 84, Kuzmanovic 75); Sampdoria 0 lost to Genoa 1 (Milito 50). — Agencies