Cordoba 1 Real Madrid 2
Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off for lashing out but Gareth Bale scored a late penalty to give a ragged Real Madrid side all three points from a 2-1 win at Cordoba.
The European champions fell behind to a penalty scored by Nabil Ghilas in only the second minute of the game but Karim Benzema levelled later on in the first half.
Cordoba had a number of chances to retake the lead in the second half but wasted them all, and Bale snatched the winner from 12 yards in the 88th minute after his free-kick was handled by Fede Cartabia, who was also sent off.
The game got off to a nightmare start for Madrid. Just 55 seconds had been played when Bebe’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked by the arm of Sergio Ramos.
The Spain international protested, with some justification, that the handball was unintentional, but referee Alejandro Hernandez was unmoved, and Ghilas coolly placed the penalty in the top corner.
Madrid were rattled and nearly conceded a second goal after 20 minutes. Cartabia released Bebe and the forward’s shot went through the legs of Ramos and just wide of the far post.
The former Manchester United man caught sight of goal again a minute later but Iker Casillas was equal to his shot.
Although they had caused Cordoba little trouble, Madrid got themselves level from a corner after 27 minutes. James Rodriguez swung the cross in and Bale flicked it towards the far post for Benzema to blast into the roof of the net from a few yards out.
However, Carlo Ancelotti’s side could not build on the goal and also made a sluggish start to the second half.
Cartabia skipped past Ramos before his shot went agonisingly close to creeping into the top corner. Bebe then had his clearest chance of the game after beating a defender, but got little power on his shot and Casillas again made the save.
But Cordoba’s best chance was still to come. Florin Andone pressed Raphael Varane on the edge of the area and had just Casillas to beat, but opted to lob the goalkeeper and his shot bounced off the ground and off the upright.
Ronaldo could have seen red minutes before he was dismissed for punching defender Ivan Crespo but the incident went unnoticed by Hernandez.
However, the referee was in no doubt the next time Ronaldo was involved in an altercation and brandished a straight red card at the Portuguese for kicking out at Cordoba defender Edimar.
However, despite playing poorly and being a man down, Madrid found a winner.
Bale smashed a free-kick into the wall and it hit Cartabia’s outstretched hand.
Just as he had punished Ramos’ handball at the start of the game, the referee showed the Argentinian youngster a yellow card, the forward’s second, and Cordoba were also down to 10 men.
With Ronaldo down the tunnel, Bale assumed penalty responsibilities and calmly waited for Juan Carlos to commit himself before sticking the ball into the unguarded net.