| Seville’s Martí (in white jersey) vies for the ball with Real Madrid’s Pavon during their Spanish League encounter on Sunday. (Reuters)
Madrid: Seville tore through Real Madrid’s paper-thin defence on their way to a 4-1 win over the reigning champions on Sunday, while Valencia went down 1-2 at home to Racing Santander on a night of surprises in the Primera Liga.
Real, needing a win to reclaim the league leadership from Deportivo Coruna, found themselves 0-3 down inside 15 minutes and Javi Casquero crashed in a fourth eight minutes before halftime to leave the reigning league champions reeling.
Ronaldo pulled one back 10 minutes into the second half but there was to be no heroic comeback and the sending off of Guti six minutes from time completed a miserable night for Carlos Queiroz’s side.
Real’s defeat followed a less dramatic setback for Valencia, who went down 1-2 as Rodolfo Bodipo struck twice for Racing.
Those results gave Deportivo full value for their 2-1 win at home to Real Sociedad on Saturday, taking the Galicians top of the table with 25 points from 11 matches.
Valencia slipped to second on 23, with Real staying behind them in third on goal difference.
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid managed to grind out victories to close up on the leaders.
Barcelona edged past Real Betis 2-1 with goals from Patrick Kluivert and Rafael Marquez, while Atletico claimed their fifth successive league win, 1-0 against Villarreal, with a fine Alvaro Novo strike.
Barcelona’s victory took them up to fourth on 19 points, ahead of Atletico on goal difference. Frank Rijkaard’s side are now just four points behind Real Madrid. Queiroz was forced into a defensive reshuffle against Seville, with Michel Salgado suspended and Roberto Carlos out injured.
The decision to replace the regular fullbacks with Francisco Pavon and Raul Bravo and bring in youngster Ruben to partner Ivan Helguera in the centre looked to be a risky one and Seville were soon in total charge.
Ruben headed a cross into the back of Helguera to hand Sevilla their opening goal after four minutes, as the ball rebounded back past Iker Casillas and in. Three minutes later, Seville were two up, with Jose Antonio Reyes sending in a weighted pass for Dario Silva to convert.
Real were at sixes and sevens and it was hardly a surprise when Daniel Alves added the third, lifting the ball over Casillas after an exchange of passes with Antonito. Queiroz reacted by replacing Ruben with Santiago Solari but Real’s fortunes scarcely improved and Casquero made it 4-0 after Reyes had stolen the ball from Pavon to create the opening.
Real sharpened up their act in the second half but Ronaldo’s drilled finish was all they had to show for their efforts as Seville held on for victory, although their night was spoiled slightly when Dario was sent off shortly after Guti had departed.
Valencia did not struggle quite so badly but they were second best throughout against a fired-up Racing side.
Racing’s opener arrived after 23 minutes when Carlos Marchena’s poor touch on the edge of the area allowed Bodipo to steal in and thread a shot past Santiago Canizares.
Valencia hit back two minutes later when Baraja got the sweetest of touches on a Jorge Lopez free kick to beat goalkeeper Ricardo at his near post but Bodipo turned in a cross from Mario Regueiro for the winner early in the second half.
Queiroz accepted a measure of blame for the defeat on Sunday, after his tactical gamble failed in spectacular style.
The likes of Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham were left shaking their heads as the third goal went in, while Casillas exchanged heated words with midfielder Guti.