Real Madrid suffered a setback in its pursuit of La Liga leaders FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, playing to a 2-2 draw here Saturday against Osasuna.
Los Blancos came out strong in the early going at El Sadar Stadium but they paid dearly for their inability to convert scoring opportunities, including Cristiano Ronaldo's squandering of a one-on-one chance against Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez.
Although it seemed like just a matter of time before Madrid would open the scoring, the match took a surprising turn when Osasuna forward Oriol Riera headed a cross into the upper-left corner of the goal.
Osasuna, which is battling to avoid relegation to the second division, then jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Riera headed in another goal after a corner kick in the 39th minute.
Things then turned even bleaker for Real Madrid when defenseman and vice-captain Sergio Ramos was sent off four minutes later after an elbow to the neck of midfielder Robert Torres earned him a second yellow card, but star midfielder Isco rose to the occasion when his team needed him most.
First, he blasted a powerful strike past Fernandez from the top of the penalty area in the waning moments of the first half.
Then, with 10 minutes remaining in regulation and shortly after Osasuna's Francisco Silva was sent off after picking up his second yellow card, Isco lofted a perfectly placed cross that found Pepe, who headed it home with authority from close range.
Real Madrid still had time to seek out the winning goal, but a shot attempt off the foot of Angel Di Maria ended up in Fernandez's arms.
With the draw, Real Madrid will remain all alone in third place in the standings with 38 points and could fall five points behind the leaders by the end of the weekend. EFE