Gamble backfires

MADRID – Real Madrid rested Cristiano Ronaldo and suffered a fifth Liga defeat of the season as Espanyol’s Gerard Moreno struck late for a 1-0 win over the Spanish and European champions yesterday.

Catalan forward Moreno wasted a number of chances but his last-minute volley took a wicked deflection off defender Raphael Varane to secure Espanyol’s first victory over Real in 11 years.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane rested Ronaldo ahead of next week’s visit to Paris St-Germain in the Champions League and, a promising opening spell aside, his side were second best.

Real stay third on 51 points from 26 games, seven behind second-placed Atletico Madrid, who host Leganes on Wednesday, and 14 adrift of pacesetters Barcelona who play on Thursday.

Espanyol’s Moreno had wasted a gilt-edged chance in the first half when he pounced on a wayward Varane clearance before seeing an effort incorrectly ruled out by the linesman’s flag.

After the break Oscar Duarte clipped the bar before Moreno’s last minute strike secured a victory that took Espanyol up to 13th place with 31 points after their first win in eight games.

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