Real beat Osasuna 2-1

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Real Madrid closed the gap on Spanish League leaders Barcelona to four points on Sunday with a fortunate 2-1 win over Osasuna in Pamplona.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:50 IST
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Real Madrid closed the gap on Spanish League leaders Barcelona to four points on Sunday with a fortunate 2-1 win over Osasuna in Pamplona. Having seen Barcelona win 4-1 away from home at Real Zaragoza on Saturday to take a seven-point lead in the race for the Spanish championship, Real Madrid was hoping for a win to keep them in touch with the Catalan side. But they were given a lesson in attacking football early on by Javier Aguirre's side, who dominated the first half and ought to have been well ahead by the break. Free kick Just four minutes in, Francisco Punal's free kick found the head of Richard Morales and his header was bound for the net before Real 'keeper Iker Casillas tipped the ball onto the crossbar. It was a warning of things to come. Osasuna finally broke through in the 36th minute - another Punal set piece and a cushioned header from Morales allowed Cameroon striker Pierre Webo to lash the ball past an exposed Casillas to open the scoring. The home side carried their lead into the break, and were unfortunate not to add to it as the second half commenced. Acrobatic skills Ten minutes in, Casillas had to be at his acrobatic best to deny Valdo as the 23-year-old midfielder chipped audaciously from the edge of the Real box. Then on 65 minutes the same player danced across the Real defence before unleashing a left foot shot that beat Casillas, but not the Real Madrid woodwork. Luxemburgo had to try something and withdrew Guti in favour of England international Michael Owen with sixteen minutes to go - four minutes later, Real got themselves back in the game. Spilling drive From a disputed free kick, a Roberto Carlos drive was spilled by Osasuna 'keeper Ricardo Sanzol, Raul's follow up fell to Owen and the substitute found the net with a close range header. The home crowd looked to the assistant referee for an offside flag, but the replay clearly showed that Osasuna defender Josetxo played both Raul and Owen on-side. Three minutes later, the visitors were ahead. Again referee Alfonso Burrull awarded a free kick to Real, David Beckham took it this time, but again Sanzol dropped the ball. Real's stalwart defender Ivan Helguera was on hand to score his first goal of the season, and Madrid subsequently wrapped up another three points. It was hard on the home side, but the 2-1 result keeps them in mid-table, while Real moved to within four points of La Liga leaders Barcelona. The top two are at home next week, with Real entertaining Athletic Bilbao as Barcelona take on Mallorca at the Nou Camp. (AP)

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