Real Madrid’s title ambitions took a reality check on Wednesday 21 September at the team’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium when taking on Villarreal, ranked outsiders for the title, the teams playing out a 1 – 1 draw at the end.
Real Madrid were forced to dig deep for the point earned in a real show of mental strength with skipper Sergio Ramos having given away a penalty to see his team trail 0 – 1 just minutes to the break.
The Spain international stuck out a hand to block a goal bound shot, leaving the referee with an easy decision to point to the spot and for the first time in La Liga this season, the European champions found themselves trailing to Bruno Soriano’s cheekily taken penalty.
However, normalcy resumed just minutes after the break. Real Madrid though had to do with a setback as Brazilian defender Marcelo hobbled off at the break, injured to be replaced by Dani Carvajal.
The hosts showed real hunger and it was Ramos who made amends for his first half error, rising well at the back post to head home from a corner that the visitors shuld have cleared well in the first place.
A frenetic final stages followed in the game, with Real Madrid missing big chances to take the three points on offer as Villarreal showed real mettle.
Karim Benzema rose and headed over from a right-wing cross in what was his last act as he was then replaced by Alvaro Morata. Soon after, Morata rose to head into the ground and towards goal but the keeper was alert to save.
The final result had Real Madrid’s leadership of the log cut by two points.