Villarreal upset the odds and won 1-0 against reigning La Liga champions Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
It was 21-year-old Pablo Fornals who was the hero on the day, as he saw his sublime chip go over Keylor Navas and into the Real Madrid net to hand the Yellow Submarine all three points.
Los Blancos were left frustrated as they had plenty of chances to score, but couldn’t find a way past goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo who put in a Man of the Match performance.
The opening minutes of the game were lacking pace and intensity from both sides. Real were happy to have all the possession, but they played without any penetration and made life comfortable for Villarreal.
However, there were early warning signs for the away side as Gareth Bale’s header found the back of the net after he met Cristiano Ronaldo’s flick, but it was flagged for offside.
This set the tempo for the rest of the half as Los Blancos turned their intensity up a notch. The next chance came when theMadrid midfield worked the ball well across the pitch before Marcelo took a sumptuous strike from distance only to be denied by Asenjo.
Madrid were clearly growing in confidence as the game went on, and it was apparent that they would need to be patient in their play against a stubborn Villarreal defence. Ronaldo had two chances within five minutes, with the first being a free-kick 25 yards from goal. His trademark strike was met by a sensational save by Asenjo who tipped it onto the crossbar.
Ronaldo should have put Madrid ahead when Luka Modric put him through with a defence-splitting pass, but his effort trickled just wide of the post.
The FIFA World Player of the Year was involved in every piece of action, and had the easiest chance in the latter stages of the first half when Isco fired the ball to the back post and Ronaldo latched onto it just five yards from goal, but somehow Asenjo got across to save it.
The Yellow Submarine were truly under the cosh and would’ve been thankful to go in all square at the interval.
Villarreal – who had not won any of their previous 17 league visits to Santiago Bernabeu – had the first chance of the second half when substitute Denis Cherysev seized possession and broke through on goal, he had plenty of time to pick his spot, but he fired it just wide.
The away side were finally coming into the game and their attacking intent set the game up to be wide open.
Los Blancos intensity from the first half had gone and they had to wait until the hour mark to claim their first chance when Ronaldo broke down the right and from a tight angle took on the strike, but the ball was fired straight at Asenjo.
Cristiano Ronaldo had 11 shots to Villarreal’s 10 at the Bernabeu
— Ben McAleer (@BenMcAleer1) January 13, 2018
With fifteen minutes left on the clock, there were jeers coming from the home fans as frustration was evident within the players and fans alike. Madrid looked uninspired and Villarreal were happy to play down the clock and shut off any attack from the home side.
Zidane tried to motivate his players as he remained animated on the touchline, but his players couldn’t find a breakthrough. Instead, it was Villarreal who broke the deadlock against the run of play.
The visitors hit Madrid on the break from a Madrid corner and Cherysev sent the ball inside for Unals, but he saw his strike blocked by Navas. However, Fornals was quick to seize on the rebound and chip the ball over the
Madrid keeper and into the net.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s 500th career league appearance ends in defeat – only the 68th in those 500 games
Real Madrid lose successive home La Liga games for the 1st time since May 2009 pic.twitter.com/pLD2MwLm96
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 13, 2018
This result will only pile even more pressure on the Madrid boss Zidane, as his side find themselves 16 points behind rivals Barcelona and essentially out of the title race.