Football: Real's decisive double strike

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

REAL MADRID staged a late rescue act on the opening day of the Spanish League season on Saturday, injury-time goals from Fernando Morientes and Raul Gonzalez bringing them a fortunate 2-1 win at Mallorca.

Real, who wasted a stack of chances and missed a penalty before the home side took the lead on 51 minutes through a Carlos Dominguez tap-in, finally found their touch in front of goal as Morientes slid in to level the scores. Then, as Mallorca's shoulders dropped at the end of a furiously-contested match, Raul popped up in the fourth minute of added time to steal the points with a deft chip from the edge of the area.

Real's remarkable recovery spared the blushes of the coach John Toshack, who gave the former Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka a debut but kept Steve McManaman, the ex-Liverpool man, on the bench until the 65th minute. Real's captain, Fernando Hierro, missed a penalty a minute before his side fell behind but Morientes and then Raul came to the rescue.

Anelka struggled to get involved in the game, as his lack of match fitness showed, and he was substituted after 70 minutes. McManaman made a nervous start, seemingly wary of running at the Mallorca defence and preferring to lay off to his colleagues, but it was his neat pass to Morientes which set up the striker for the equaliser.

In the Portuguese League, the former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was beaten twice on his debut as Sporting Lisbon scrambled a 2-2 away draw with newly promoted Santa Clara.

Schmeichel was beaten after 14 minutes when Jorge Gamboa fired home from inside the area. Santa Clara, the first club from the Azores Islands ever to play in the First Division, then went 2-0 ahead after Gamboa, unmarked inside the box, headed home from close range.

Sporting fought back after the break when the winger Edmilson Pimenta, who had missed a penalty in the first half, scored with a header after a cross from the right by Alberto Acosta, the Argentine striker. Acosta then scored the equaliser in the 64th minute.

In the German Bundesliga the Hamburg goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt scored twice from the penalty spot as his side beat VfB Stuttgart 3-0 for their first win of the campaign. It also made the goalkeeper the second-highest scorer in the First Division so far this season.

In Saturday's European Championship qualifier Croatia struggled to a lacklustre 2-1 home victory over Malta in Zagreb to take over from Yugoslavia at the top of Group Eight. Mario Stanic and Zvonimir Soldo scored in each half before David Carabott pulled one back for the visitors. Arsenal's Davor Suker played the full game for Croatia.

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