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Real Madrid crisis deepens with defeat by Villarreal

  • Published at 10:53 am January 14th, 2018
Real Madrid crisis deepens with defeat by Villarreal
Real Madrid's struggle showed no signs of easing Saturday as the champion slumped to a second La Liga defeat in three games which increased pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane. Beaten 1-0 by Villarreal and with their title hope in total disarray on a rain swept Saturday, Zidane's men trudged off the sodden pitch with jeers ringing around Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Zidane's side dominated the game but succumbed to an 87th minute strike from Pablo Fornals, who chipped over goalkeeper Keylor Navas on the rebound after a lightning quick counterattack, giving Villarreal their first ever win at the Bernabeu in 19 visits in all competitions. Real remain fourth in the Liga standing on 32 points and are only one point and one place above Villarreal and trail Atletico Madrid by 10 points after their city rival won 1-0 away to Eibar thanks to a solitary strike by Kevin Gameiro. Valencia clung on to beat Deportivo la Coruna 2-1 away to tighten their grip on third place, moving eight points above Real although Zidane's side have a game in hand. They could fall a gaping 19 points behind runaway leader Barcelona if Ernesto Valverde's side beat Real Sociedad Sunday. Real's slim chance of getting back into the title race after their 3-0 defeat by Barca before Christmas had faded further with last week's 2-2 draw away to Celta de Vigo and, coupled with the persistent rain, there was little enthusiasm for the game at the Bernabeu, which was three-quarters full. The home side began brightly as Gareth Bale had a goal correctly ruled offside and Ronaldo hit the woodwork twice. Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo tipped away a stinging distance strike from outside the area from Marcelo with little more than half an hour on the clock. Real also had a penalty appeal waved away when visiting defender Alvaro Gonzalez appeared to block a shot from Bale with his arm, while Asenjo made his best save of an outstanding overall display by thwarting Ronaldo from close range on the stroke of halftime. Villarreal slowly grew into the game as the second half progressed and capitalised on Real's desperation to try and win the game by outnumbering Zidane's side on the break after clearing Toni Kroos' corner. Second-placed Atletico survived a potentially tricky trip to Eibar without the suspended Diego Costa, with Gameiro knocking in a pass from Antoine Griezmann in the 27th minute. Valencia went ahead at Deportivo with the help of a tremendous goalkeeping blunder from Ruben Martinez, who let Goncalo Guedes' blunt shot through his hands and between his legs in the 37th minute. Spain international Rodrigo Moreno struck the second in the 64th with the help of a huge deflection off Depor defender Pablo Mosquera. The host pulled one back in the 88th minute through Florin Andone and Adrian Lopez had a gilt-edged chance to level in stoppage time but smashed the ball into the stand. At the other end of the table, basement club Las Palmas were hammered 6-0 by Liga debutant Girona, while 19th-placed Malaga sacked hapless coach Michel a day after Friday's 1-0 defeat at Getafe, a fourth consecutive loss in the league. RESULTS Eibar 0 Atletico 1 (Gameiro 27) Real Madrid 0 Villarreal 1 (Fornals 87) Girona 6 (Stuani 24-P, Olunga 57, 70, 79, Borja 63, Portu 74) Las Palmas 0 Deportivo 1 (Andone 88) Valencia 2 (Guedes 37, Rodrigo 64)   SUNDAY'S MATCHES Levante v Celta, Alaves v Sevilla, Espanyol v Bilbao and Sociedad v Barcelona