Football

Real Madrid slump to second La Liga loss in three games

Real Madrid's slump showed no signs of easing as the champions fell 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 hopes in total disarray on a rain-swept Saturday, Zidane's men trudged off the sodden pitch with jeers ringing around the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Real dominated the game but succumbed to an 87th-minute strike from Pablo Fornals.

Said Zidane: "We don't deserve this. We played well but the ball just didn't want to go in for us and I cannot explain why.

"We then couldn't prevent them counter-attacking us and it's really tough on the players."

Real's slim chances of getting back into the title race after their 3-0 defeat by Barcelona before Christmas had faded further with last week's 2-2 draw away to Celta Vigo.

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 strike from outside the area from Marcelo, while Real also had a penalty appeal waved away when visiting defender Alvaro Gonzalez appeared to block a shot from Bale with his arm.

Asenjo's best save of an outstanding overall display came just before the break, when he thwarted Ronaldo from close range.

Villarreal slowly grew into the game as the second half progressed and eventually capitalised on Real's desperation to try and win the game by outnumbering Zidane's side on the break after clearing Toni Kroos' corner. - REUTERS

Football