Ronaldo’s own goal propels Granada to upset

February 2, 2013, 6:16 PM

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BARCELONA, Spain — Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first own goal of his otherwise stellar career to condemn Real Madrid to a 1-0 defeat at Granada on Saturday, as Jose Mourinho’s side fell into the same funk that has dogged it all season against lesser-name opponents.

Ronaldo’s career is packed with goals of all sorts and from all angles, but he had never in 10 and a half seasons found the back of his team’s net until he headed a corner over goalkeeper Diego Lopez in a flubbed attempt to clear 22 minutes in.

Madrid’s latest slip, however, rested on the entire team as the defending champions failed to get a shot on target until Ronaldo finally found the mark after 58 minutes.

Madrid’s fifth loss in 12 away games this season left it 15 points behind Barcelona before the Spanish league leader visits Valencia on Sunday. Atletico Madrid is four points ahead of Madrid heading into Sunday’s game against Real Betis.

Mourinho, who hadn’t appeared before the press for weeks, took part of the blame, and then dished out the rest to his players.

"We have lost too many times. We didn’t play well, and the responsibility is mine," said Mourinho. "We didn’t even get a draw and that bothers me, but our first half, which was horrible, bothers me much more. In the second half, even though we improved and had a chance to score, it wasn’t enough to be even minimally satisfied with what we did."

Mourinho said that while he understood that some of his players were worn down by its match against Barcelona on Wednesday, "there are others who were on the bench or in the stands."

Elsewhere, resurgent Espanyol beat Levante 3-2 for its fourth straight home win, Osasuna edged out Celta Vigo 1-0 to escape the relegation zone, and 10-man Getafe rallied to a 3-1 win over last-place Deportivo La Coruna.

Madrid had apparently put its inconsistent play behind it by outscoring its league opponents 9-0 over the previous two rounds and earning a 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal.

Yet all the same flaws resurfaced at Los Carmenes Stadium as Madrid was uninspired to start the match and then incapable of remedying the situation after Ronaldo dealt his team its unexpected setback.

Granada looked like easy pickings. It entered the game in the relegation zone after having won just twice at home in 10 previous tries this season and was under the orders of a coach who had only arrived on Wednesday.

But Lucas Alcaraz couldn’t have asked for a better debut as his team gave a huge effort to compensate for its shortcomings in talent compared with the star-studded Madrid.

"Since I was the only one who said this week that we could win, I am not as surprised as everyone else," said Alcaraz, who began his coaching career at Granada in 1995 while in the third division. "All my players played with great team spirit and intensity, but those at the back were especially focused tonight."

Granada’s early pressure almost paid off when Carlos Aranda beat the offside trap and crossed, forcing Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa to scramble back to send his pass over the end line.

But Granada got its deserved goal when Ronaldo flicked Manuel "Nolito" Agudo’s resulting in-swinging corner kick into his own net in a flubbed attempt to clear.

Nolito, who also arrived on Wednesday from Benfica, said "I had meant the corner to be struck by my own teammates. But we will take the three points any way we can."

Spanish media reports indicated it was the first own goal in Ronaldo’s career that stretches back through his days at Manchester United, Sporting Lisbon, and the Portugal national side.

Ronaldo tried to make up for his mistake with a pair of free kicks, sending the first skipping well wide and crashing the second into the defensive barrier.

Also on Sunday, it’s: Malaga vs. Real Zaragoza, Sevilla vs Rayo Vallecano, and Real Sociedad vs. Mallorca. Athletic Bilbao drew 2-2 at Valladolid on Friday.

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