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Ronaldo scores twice, but controversial call allows Real Madrid to salvage 2-1 win at Elche (Video)

Sep 25, 2013, 6:38 PM EDT

Elche FC v  Real Madrid CF - La Liga Getty Images

Real Madrid got away with one here. At least, Pepe did, but at the same time, the Portuguese international’s antics saved his team from what would have been a crucial slip. And thanks to the penalty he drew, Real Madrid was able to get out of Elche with a 2-1 win.

That win game via Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal of the day: a penalty conversion five minutes into stoppage time; beating Manu Herrera into the low left hand corner; scored two minutes after the fourth official had raised “3” on his board. But the “extra” extra time was the result of a dramatic, 92nd equalizer from Richmond Boakye, the 20-year-old Ghanian taking advantage of Real Madrid’s uncharacteristic defensive breakdown to seemingly hand the Merengues their second blemish of the year.

In a league were the title contenders need to shoot for 100 points (and two teams are perfect through six rounds), any draw to a non-contender is huge. That Real Madrid was about to be handed their second draw could have sparked serious debate in Spain. Are los Blancos are capable of keeping up? Or is this last year all over again?

That’s why Pepe’s act, as disappointing and predictably cynical as it was, looms large. On a 95th minute corner, the Real Madrid defender grabbed Carlos Sánchez’s right arm and pulled the Elche midfielder down on top of him. But that’s not how César Muñiz saw it, the match’s referee pointing to the spot ahead of Ronaldo’s decisive conversion. To kind, Pepe was taken to ground on the corner, and while that violation often goes unpunished under normal circumstances, it drew a whistle today.

There’s no way around it. On some level, Real Madrid didn’t deserve this result. Pepe fouled Sánchez, should have been carded himself, but Muñiz misinterprets the play differently. As a result, Real Madrid get the win and stay two points back of Barcelona and Atlético Madrid (both 6-0-0).

The moral element that everybody will discuss: Should Pepe, independent of whether he would get caught, seek to play in such a cynical, deceptive manner. When games are scheduled and teams agree to take part in them, do they accept that matches could be decided in this unfair manner? Or is the intent for the 22 players to try and play within the rules? Or within a reasonable margin of them?

Pepe’s intent clearly defies that. Perhaps it’s a “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,” scenario, in which case, Pepe should be applauded for his effort. Or perhaps, in less jaded terms,  players should expect their opponents to do everything possible to get a result. Perhaps Sánchez should have avoided Pepe altogether, given the defender’s reputation for gamesmanship.

Me? I tend to think this kind of variation happens enough, you should expect a couple of weird outcomes like this per season. Is it right? Is it wrong? I’m not sure. It just happens. Every team should expect to be on the wrong end of it occasionally, an explanation that won’t placate Fran Escribá’s team tonight.

  1. sabanissatan - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    así, así, así gana el madrid

  2. midtec2005 - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Wait Pepe cheated? There’s a shocker….

  3. lyleoross - Sep 26, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Richard, you are trying to engender a conversation, that’s awesome, but the underlying question, what is more valuable, the integrity of the game, or winning should not be a question, and I’m pretty sure that is your intent. When the question comes down to, who cheats better, what is left of the game? If our mark of success isn’t skill in play, skill in tactics or effort, but simply skill in cheating, why would I want to watch the game? Even if it is to my benefit, I’ve lost the enjoyment of seeing brilliant play so that someone can cheat to win a game.

    Football needs a change, and no, cultural change won’t do it. Either game side, or post game, such tactics need to be punished. The player should be punished with suspension, and the club should be forced to continue to pay their salary. I promise, if the club has to pay a guy to sit on the bench because he cheated, they will quickly tell that player to knock it off.

    • midtec2005 - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:29 PM

      I agree, I’ve long been supportive of retroactive punishment for diving and violent conduct. If Pepe got suspended for every one of those incidents he would never play again…

    • Richard Farley - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      Hi Lyle: You’re right. That was my intent to get people/thinking about that. Obviously, you lie one end of that spectrum. I suspect/know a lot agree.

  4. swisstimesr - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    Rules are for everyone, we have to accept the realities.

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