Underdogs Zaragoza, Rayo Vallecano victorious: La Liga
Expected to struggle this season, Real Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano showed their mettle by fighting back from two-goal deficits to record victories and move into the top half of the Spanish league on Saturday.
Zaragoza roared from behind to rout 10-man Deportivo La Coruna 5-3 at Romareda Stadium, while Rayo rallied to edge out 10-man Celta Vigo 3-2 for its second straight win.
"We rebounded to win like the great teams do," said coach Manolo Jimenez, whose Zaragoza languished in the relegation zone for most of last season before barely avoiding the drop.
Also, Real Sociedad beat Malaga 2-1 for the Basque team's first away win since Jan. 14 of last season to escape the relegation zone.
Deportivo looked set to cruise to its first away win of the season after two errors by Zaragoza's Franco Zuculini led to goals by Bruno Gama and Ivan "Riki" Sanchez in the 13th and 21st minutes.
Antonio "Apono" Galdeano pulled one back for Zaragoza in the 27th with a spot kick after Tiago Pinto controlled the ball with his arm inside the area. But the hosts didn't start to dominate until Luis "Pizzi" Afonso was sent off with his second booking four minutes after halftime.
Zaragoza midfielder Paco Montanes equalized off a set piece in the 60th. Alvaro Gonzalez then grabbed the lead six minutes later before Portugal striker Helder Postiga netted a brace against Deportivo's demoralized defence.
Substitute Rodolfo Bodipo scored Deportivo's third goal in added time.
"This was a night for all those who love Zaragoza to celebrate," said Jimenez. "There was a great communion between the team and our fans after we went down 2-0 due to a pair of accidents."
Earlier in Madrid, Celta striker Iago Aspas gave the visitors a 2-0 lead with goals in the 12th and 34th minutes.
The match, however, took a dramatic swing in Rayo's favour when Celta defender Gustavo Cabral received his second yellow card six minutes from halftime.
Forward Leo Carrilho scored for Rayo with a header in the 59th before Roberto "Tito" Triguero was left unmarked to level with his 72nd-minute header. Francisco "Piti" Medina completed the comeback with a spot kick in the 82nd after Celta's Andres Tunez pulled down Andrija Delibasic in the area.
"The fact that Celta was left with 10 (men) before halftime gave us a certain advantage, but even so it's not easy to score against Celta and even less so when they are winning by two goals," said Rayo coach Paco Jemez.
Promoted Celta remained without a point from six away games this season.
Sociedad stunned the crowd at Rosaleda Stadium by striking before the first minute of play was up, as Carlos Vela redirected Diego Ifran's low cross into the far side of the net.
Javier Saviola tied it up for Malaga in the 37th when the diminutive forward sneaked in to control a corner kick before firing home.
But Xavi Prieto restored Sociedad's lead for good in the 59th after Malaga's United States defender Oguchi Onyewu deflected a pass into his path for the forward to slot beyond helpless goalkeeper Willy Caballero.
Malaga, whose squad is still waiting to be paid some of its back wages from last season, has lost three of its last five league games and is in danger of relinquishing its hold on fifth place.
At the bottom end of the table, last-place Osasuna earned a much-needed second victory by winning 3-0 at Espanyol, dealing the Barcelona-based side its first loss in five rounds.
League leader Barcelona visits Mallorca on Sunday before second-place Atletico Madrid hosts Getafe. Real Madrid also plays at Levante, while Valencia visits Valladolid and Sevilla plays Athletic Bilbao.
Granada won 2-1 at Real Betis to open the 11th round on Friday.