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  Real Madrid reel at Villarreal

Real Madrid reel at Villarreal

AFP
Published : Dec 15, 2015, 6:27 am IST
Updated : Dec 15, 2015, 6:27 am IST

Atletico join Barca on top, Madrid third in Spanish league

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) vies for the ball with two Villarreal defenders in their Spanish League match. — AP
 Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) vies for the ball with two Villarreal defenders in their Spanish League match. — AP

Atletico join Barca on top, Madrid third in Spanish league

Real Madrid’s La Liga title hopes were dealt another huge blow as they suffered a third league defeat in five games to Roberto Soldado’s solitary goal at Villarreal on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid’s 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao earlier in the day means Real now trail their city rivals and Barcelona by five points at the top of the table.

Real were outplayed in the first-half, but reacted after the break and were left to rue a hat-trick of missed chances by troubled French striker Karim Benzema as defeat piles the pressure on under fire coach Rafael Benitez.

Elsewhere, a late own goal salvaged a point for Valencia in Gary Neville’s first taste of La Liga action as Los Che battled back with 10 men to draw 1-1 at Eibar.

Real had won five consecutive games since being thrashed 0-4 at home by Barca last month, but were forced onto the back foot by a whirlwind start from Villarreal.

Jonathan dos Santos had already smacked the inside of the post before Soldado turned home Cedric Bakambu's pass against his old club on eight minutes.

Bakambu had two great chances to double Villarreal’s advantage before half-time, but the Congolese striker pulled his shot wide when clean through on Keylor Navas before firing over from inside the area.

Having been dominated in the first half, Madrid came out a different side after the break but could not capitalise.

Location: Spain, Madrid