Actual Madrid blew an opportunity to ramp up the strain on La Liga chief Barcelona within the title race because it fell 2-1 at Villarreal in a disjointed show on Saturday.
Yeremy Pino and Gerard Moreno’s strikes both aspect of Karim Benzema’s penalty had been sufficient to offer the hosts a sixth consecutive victory throughout all competitions and dent the Spanish champions’ bid to retain the trophy.
Madrid stays stage on factors with league chief Barcelona, which faces Atletico Madrid on Sunday, and this season the nation’s two giants appear destined to tussle over the title themselves.
Carlo Ancelotti’s aspect caught up with Barcelona final weekend after Xavi’s workforce drew with Espanyol within the Catalan derby, however Madrid haven’t began 2023 significantly effectively.
Madrid’s slim Spanish Cup victory over fourth-tier opponents Cacereno was adopted by this bruising wake-up name on the renovated and newly reopened Estadio de la Ceramica, its second league defeat.
Ancelotti chosen a Madrid beginning line-up with out a Spanish participant in it for the primary time within the membership’s historical past, in line with media stories in Spain.
Los Blancos have struggled away at Villarreal lately, with two wins in 11 visits, the final coming in 2017 when Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Alvaro Morata had been on the scoresheet.
Quique Setien’s aspect, constructing confidence after a tricky begin for the previous Barcelona coach, comprehensively outplayed Madrid within the first half, albeit with out the aim they craved.
Francis Coquelin hit the put up with an exquisite flick from Alberto Moreno’s cross, whereas Dani Parejo fired large.
Gerard Moreno performed in Yeremy Pino however Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois did brilliantly to thwart the Spanish winger as he tried to dribble spherical him.
Alex Baena drilled one effort large and curled one other narrowly over as Villarreal carved open Madrid’s sluggish defence at will.
Madrid, nonetheless struggling after the World Cup break, started to pry itself in direction of the top of the primary half.
Benzema selected poorly when racing by way of on aim with Vinicius in assist, crashing into final man Raul Albiol as an alternative of springing the Brazilian.
When the French ahead then did tee up Vinicius, he was denied by veteran goalkeeper Pepe Reina, beginning after Geronimo Rulli’s transfer to Ajax.
Villarreal started the second half with the identical vigour and this time it did repay, with the electrical Pino slamming house from Moreno’s go.
Benzema instantly had an opportunity to equalise however dragged a shot inches large of the far put up after being slipped in by Vinicius.
The 2022 Ballon d’Or winner ultimately levelled from the spot after probably the most marginal of handball choices was given towards Argentine World Cup winner Juan Foyth after an hour.
Villarreal was infuriated however simply three minutes later had been gifted a smooth penalty themselves when David Alaba slipped and touched the ball together with his hand.
Moreno despatched Thibaut Courtois the incorrect strategy to restore the hosts’ lead and so they clung to it tightly.
Rodrygo Goes fired large as Madrid hunted for an equaliser earlier than Vinicius sprinted by way of on aim however fired over the bar when he may need scored.
Madrid travels to Saudi Arabia subsequent to participate within the Spanish Tremendous Cup — however first it faces an anxious wait to see if Barcelona drop factors within the capital.