England defender Jonathan Woodgate endured a
nightmare debut for Real Madrid after his 17-month injury-enforced layoff.
The former Newcastle United player scored an own goal and then got sent off
although Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1, thanks to second half goals from
Robinho and a brace by Raul Gonzalez.
Woodgate's woeful night started when he intercepted a hard shot from out wide on
the left by Athletic's Joseba Etxeberria and headed the ball past his own
goalkeeper Iker Casillas to put the Basque visitors ahead after 24 minutes.
To add to his misery, Woodgate gained the dubious distinction of being the first
Spanish first division player to put through his own net this season.
After the goal, several sections the crowd barracked Woodgate, adding insult
after his injuries.
Woodgate was playing his first competitive game since April 2004.
His last game was as a Newcastle player, when limped out of an English
Premiership match against Chelsea with a problem with his left thigh, a few
months before Real paid 13.4 million pounds for him in August 2004.
Real were second best during the first half.
Athletic's Tiko Martinez had two good long-range chances and Casillas required
all of his finely-honed reactions to the visitors adding to their score.
However, Real bounced back after the break.
Robinho equalised with a header from a David Beckham free kick eight minutes
after half time.
Club captain Raul Gonzalez then added Real's second after 64 minutes.
A wonderful defence-splitting pass from the midfield by Jose Maria 'Guti'
Gutierrez, who had come on at half time for the below-par Thomas Gravesen, found
Ronaldo darting down the left wing.
The former World Player of the Year passed inside to Raul, who had an easy job
of putting Real ahead.
Barely a minute later Woodgate then got his marching orders for his second
yellow card of the night, for obstructing Etxeberria with his forearm across his
He was a sorry figure as he left the field well aware his debut had been a
There were fears that Real would be in trouble having gone a man down but three
minutes later Raul rose to the occasion and got his second of the night, heading
home a Beckham corner from the edge of the six-yard box.
Athletic were not finished and Manuel Llorente hit the cross bar late in the
game but were reduced to 10 men as well for the final three minutes after Luis
Prieto was sent off for a crude challenge on Robinho.
The victory sees Real leap from the lower half of the table up to fifth and it
will ease some of the pressure on Real coach Wanderley Luxemburgo, after
suffering three consecutive defeats prior to Thursday's victory.
The past week has seen media in England and France links the names of Rafa
Benitez and Didier Deschamps with the coaching job at the Spanish giants amidst
heightened speculation that Luxemburgo will be out of Madrid by December.
Celta Vigo lead the league with nine points after getting their third win in
four outings with a 2-1 victory at struggling Villarreal on Wednesday.
The loss means that the Champions League contenders slip to the foot of the
Spanish first division and Villarreal are still without a win this season.
Unbeaten Getafe and Deportivo have eight points eachand lie second and third
respectively, divided by goal difference.
Getafe drew 1-1 at home with Real Mallorca while Deportivo managed the same
score against Real Betis on Wednesday.
Spanish football league table after Thursday's match (played, won, drawn, lost,
goals for, goals against, points):
Celta Vigo 4 3 0 1 7 4 9
Getafe 4 2 2 0 8 5 8
Deportivo La Coruna 4 2 2 0 5 3 8
Real Zaragoza 4 1 3 0 5 3 6
Real Madrid 4 2 0 2 7 6 6
Valencia 4 1 3 0 7 6 6
Racing Santander 4 2 0 2 2 2 6
Osasuna 4 2 0 2 4 5 6
Espanyol 4 2 0 2 3 4 6
Real Sociedad 4 2 0 2 7 11 6
Barcelona 4 1 2 1 5 4 5
Cadiz 4 1 2 1 3 3 5
Real Betis 4 1 2 1 2 2 5
Sevilla 4 1 2 1 2 2 5
Athletic Bilbao 4 1 1 2 6 6 4
Real Mallorca 4 1 1 2 6 6 4
Atletico Madrid 4 1 1 2 4 5 4
Malaga 4 1 1 2 3 5 4
Alaves 4 0 2 2 4 6 2
Villarreal 4 0 2 2 4 6 2