Girona provided one of the biggest upsets of the season so far on Sunday afternoon, as the side who are enjoying their first ever season in the Spanish top flight overcame the current champions Real Madrid with a simply sensational and spirited 2-1 victory.
It was Los Blancos who took the lead shortly before the quarter-hour mark, as Isco punished a case of sloppy goalkeeping from close range after Cristiano Ronaldo’s initial effort on the counter attack following the hosts hitting the woodwork just 20 seconds previously.
But a tremendous second-half display from the La Liga new boys saw them net two goals in four minutes. The first came after
It was a high-tempo opening inside a packed-out
Visitors’ goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, in for the unavailable Keylor Navas, seemed to struggle whilst crowded in a melee of both attackers and defenders, with the 31-year-old’s lack of command in his area allowing the ball to ricochet off the right-hand upright. However, exactly 20 seconds later it was in fact his opposite number who was picking the ball out of his net.
Los Blancos were the first to capitalise on the loose rebound from the woodwork, with Karim Benzema eventually taking control of possession. The France international did extremely well to hold off the host’s defensive efforts and in the blink of an eye had forced his side 70 yards up field before feeding Ronaldo on the edge of the area.
The Portuguese Euro 2016-winner was able to cut inside from the left wing and release a right-footed effort towards goal, which was spilled by custodian Yassine Bounou into the onrushing path of Isco – leaving the 25-year-old to convert the easiest of finishes as he punished the extremely sloppy goalkeeping to put his side ahead.
As the half ticked along Girona continued to give a great account for themselves, taking the game to Madrid and arguably fashioning the best chances of the opening 45 minutes – and just after the half-hour mark they were left wondering again how they were not yet back on level terms.
But somehow the 25-year-old did not see his well-guided attempt nestle in the back of the 31-year-old’s net, as, for the second time of the afternoon, the underdogs were denied by the post – leaving them still training as they went into the break.
As the second-half got into full swing it was again the hosts who looked the liveliest, and less than 10 minutes in finally found the back of the net courtesy of Stuani’s right-footed effort
The Spanish defensive midfielder, by trade, skipped past three Real defenders around the area before attempting to round Ramos, whose tackle halted the Spaniard’s mazing run. However, the standing block rebounded fortunately into the path of the former Middlesbrough man, who lashed home to give his side a deserved equaliser.
The scenes inside the
After levelling things up the White and Reds continued to press high up the field with intensity and aggression, a tactic which afforded Maffeo to eventually latch onto a rebounded shot from the left-hand side and unleash a fizzing effort of his own from 12-yards.
The goal-bound attempt was then turned in with a brilliant piece of quick-thinking from teammate Portu, whose skilful play, albeit in a potentially offside position on reflection, beat the Madrid trio of Ramos, Marcelo and Casilla – who all occupied their own goal-line.
The following 30 minutes was one that will live long in the memory of all 13,500 of those in attendance, with the fight, willingness and heart from the hosts rivalling that of any seen before, and it proved enough to earn a history-making three points.
The result leaves Madrid eight points behind league leaders Barcelona after just 10 games, a gap which will worry