Isco spares Real blushes

Isco spares Real blushes

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Real Madrid's Francisco "Isco" Alarcon (R) celebrates with teammate Marcelo after scoring the winner against Sporting Gijon in Gijon Saturday. — Reuters

MADRID — Isco’s brilliant double helped a much-changed Real Madrid side snatch a 3-2 win at Sporting Gijon Saturday to move six points clear of title rival Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

Madrid twice came from behind before Isco’s low drive in the 90th minute handed Los Blancos victory against its exhausted host.

Sporting opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Mikel Vesga scooped a pass over Madrid’s defense which Duje Cop slammed home, before Isco equalized three minutes later with a brilliant individual goal.

Vesga looped a header over Kiko Casilla to put the host back in front after halftime, but Alvaro Morata equalized with a headed goal of his own, before Isco’s late winner.

Real Madrid, which moved up to 75 points from 31 games, made nine changes to the team from its Champions League victory at Bayern Munich in midweek, with the second leg to come Tuesday.

Fabio Coentrao and Danilo were handed rare starts in the fullback positions, while forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were rested, with Wales international Gareth Bale out injured.

The host took advantage, showing no fear against the league leader and it broke the deadlock with Cop’s well-worked goal.

The lead did not last long, however, as man-of-the-match Isco danced away from two defenders before curling into the top corner.

Madrid began to find its feet and nearly went ahead before the break when Lucas Vazquez almost reached a low cross at the back post.

It was Sporting, however, who moved back in front in the 50th minute, with on-loan Athletic Bilbao midfielder Vesga planting a header high over Casilla that dipped into the net.

Morata scored nine minutes later, heading home Danilo’s cross, and Madrid pressed for a winner with Isco robbed of the ball when poised to shoot after another bewitching dribble and substitute Marcelo drilling wide.

In the final minute of the game Madrid got its goal, Isco finding a pocket of space on the edge of the area and firing a strike inside Ivan Cuellar’s near post.

Earlier Saturday, Deportivo La Coruna beat Malaga 2-0 to move nine points clear of the relegation zone, with Sporting Gijon still 18th, on 22 points. — Reuters

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