Madrid in trouble after losing to Sevilla

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Renato scored with a late header for Sevilla to withstand a spirited second-half rally from Real Madrid to win 4-3 in the Spanish league.

Updated: December 08, 2008 18:34 IST
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Renato scored with a late header for Sevilla to withstand a spirited second-half rally from Real Madrid to win 4-3 in the Spanish league, leaving two-time defending champion Madrid trailing leader Barcelona by nine points.

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 traveling to Barcelona next Saturday for the "classico".

"At the Camp Nou now, it's not possible to win," Schuster said. "They (Barcelona) are playing really well there and it's their year. We can just try and hopefully play a good game."

Madrid, which has now lost three of its past four league matches, will be without the suspended Arjen Robben and Marcelo in its desperate bid to keep its season from finishing before Christmas.

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 result in Madrid being whistled off at halftime by 80,000 spectators.

The hosts, which 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 defense 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.

"We believe a lot in our chances (to win the league)," Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez said. "You can already see the difference this year (to last). You can see the importance of this victory, which gives us confidence to believe in our chances."

Earlier yesterday, Angel Lafita and Mexico striker Omar Bravo scored second-half goals as Deportivo La Coruna beat Malaga 2-0 for its sixth win from seven games to stay in the hunt for a Champions League place.

Recreativo Huelva twice rallied on goals from Ruben Marco and Adrian Colunga before Javi Fuego's 54th-minute free kick secured a 3-2 win against Mallorca.

Mallorca, which is winless in six games, went ahead through David Navarro and Jose Jurado.

Osasuna replaced Recreativo in last place after blowing a three-goal advantage in a 3-3 draw with Valladolid.

Eduardo "Dady" Fernandes scored twice and Javad Nekounam the other for Osasuna inside 57 minutes before Henok Goitom started the Valladolid rally three minutes later.

Osasuna's Miguel Flano headed an own-goal and Bartholemew Ogbebeche equalised in the 85th to leave Osasuna with nine points.

At El Sardinero, Gonzalo Colsa's 83rd-minute curled shot beat 'keeper Gorka Iraizoz as Racing Santander drew 1-1 with 10-man Athletic Bilbao, which had gone ahead in the 49th through Fran Yeste before Pablo Orbaiz was sent off.

Asier Goiria poked through goalie Diego Alves from an apparent offside position for Numancia to beat Almeria 2-1.

Numancia went ahead at Los Pajaritos stadium in the 12th through Esteban Solari, before Javier del Pino equalized eight minutes later. Goiria scored the winner in the 53rd.

Also, Mane Esnal watched his Espanyol team draw 1-1 with Real Betis in his first game in charge.

Achille Emana opened for Betis in the 56th with his sixth league goal before Ferran Corominas answered in the 71st to snap Espanyol's three-game losing run.

On Saturday, Villarreal rallied to draw 3-3 with Getafe and Atletico Madrid routed Sporting Gijon 5-2.

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