Sergio leveller puts Deportivo in pole position

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The Independent Football

The performance of the day, though, came from Venezuelan striker Juan Arango who scored a second-half hat-trick to help Real Mallorca to their first points of the season in their entertaining 5-2 win at home to Real Sociedad.

With his side trailing 2-1 at half time, Arango turned the game with two quick-fire headers in the space of three minutes and then helped himself to a spectacular third when he controlled a long throw with his chest on the right side of the area and smacked an unstoppable volley into the far corner. The Greek striker Lampros Choutos completed the rout when he steered in at the far post in injury time.

Barcelona were facing a tough away game at Atletico Madrid last night, while Real Madrid, who lost 3-2 to Celta last weekend and were then thrashed 3-0 by Lyon in the Champions' League, were looking to put a miserable week behind them when they travelled to Espanyol.

Deportivo took the lead against the run of play at the Mestalla when Diego Tristan scored his first league goal in five months with a cool finish after a succession of errors in the Valencia defence in the 24th minute.

The home side almost equalised eight minutes later when Ruben Baraja shaved the post with a powerful free kick, but the midfielder was given his marching orders soon after when he was shown a red card for a reckless challenge on the defender Manuel Pablo.

Tempers flared on the stroke of half-time when Pablo Aimar and Joan Capdevila clashed and the Argentinian Aimar spat at the Deportivo player.

There was further controversy at the start of the second half, this time after the referee, Eduardo Iturralde, had given a penalty for a clear handball from the Depor defender Jorge Andrade. Jose Molina saved David Villa's spot kick, but Iturralde inexplicably ordered the penalty to be retaken and this time the Valencia striker made it 1-1.

The visitors were also down to 10 men just before the hour, the winger Pedro Munitis being dismissed for picking up a second booking for a handball.

Valencia looked to have secured victory 10 minutes from time when the Portugal defender Miguel Monteiro, who recently joined from Benfica, cracked in a stunning drive after a fine cross-field pass from Fabio Aurelio. But the midfielder Sergio allowed Depor to grab a valuable away point when he got behind the Valencia defence to finish off a slick counter-attack with a simple tap-in minutes later.

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