Real falters at Villareal

Published: January 04, 2019 17:15:30


Santi Cazorla scored twice as Real Madrid failed to take full advantage of their game in hand on LaLiga leaders Barcelona in a frustrating 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened Villarreal.

Los Blancos, back in action for the first time since winning the Club World Cup, appeared to be headed for three points as Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane cancelled out Cazorla's crisp early opener by the 20th minute.

But with just eight minutes remaining, Cazorla ghosted in to head Pablo Fornals' teasing cross past Thibaut Courtois to secure a share of the spoils, according to Goal.

Madrid, who lost the ineffective Gareth Bale to injury at half-time, are consequently fourth and seven points behind leaders Barcelona after 17 matches, while Villarreal are out of the bottom three but remain level with 18th-placed Athletic Bilbao.

Madrid had won their last three league matches without conceding but just four minutes had elapsed when Samuel Chukwueze picked out Cazorla, who curled the ball into the bottom-right corner for his first LaLiga goal since returning to the club in August.

The lead lasted all of three minutes as Benzema headed a right-sided cross from Lucas Vazquez past Sergio Asenjo from eight yards and the turnaround was complete when Varane leapt highest to guide Toni Kroos' deep free-kick back across goal.

Luka Modric then converted from close range after Kroos had a shot kept out by Asenjo, only for the offside flag to cut short his celebrations.

Madrid made a slow start to the second half but could have extended their lead on the hour, with Vazquez profiting from a favourable deflection but shooting right at Asenjo.

That would prove a costly miss as Fornals delivered the ball into the back post for Cazorla to head past Courtois.

An end-to-end conclusion to the match ensued, with Bale's half-time replacement Isco forcing Asenjo into a late save with his bullet strike, but Villarreal earned a crucial point on their quest to dodge the drop and inflicted a big blow on their opponents' outside title hopes.

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