Real Madrid's hope of regaining the La Liga title were hit with a blow this weekend as they were held 1-1 by a resilient Villarreal side at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The reigning European champions took the lead in the 52nd minute thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty, after the Portuguese forward was bundled over inside the box by defender Eric Bailly.
But Villarreal were quick to react, as their 22-year-old striker Gerard Moreno brought the scores level in the 64th minute. The Barcelona youth graduate beat Real captain Iker Casillas with a low shot from 22-yards out.
This was the first time Real had dropped points on home soil since their 2-1 defeat at the hands of crosstown rivals and the reigning Spanish champions Atletico Madrid back in September last year.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti was naturally disappointed with the result. The former Milan and Chelsea manager decided to take Isco off for Asier Illarramendi in the 78th minute, with the decision to sub an attack minded player for a more defensive minded player, 12 minutes from full time and in dire need of a goal, not going down well with the Madrid supporters.
This was the manager's take on the decision, according to Marca: "A manager is down there on the pitch to make changes, because he thinks that they are for the good of the team.
"If the fans don't understand it, well I'm sorry, but I made the decision in order to give more balance to the team," he said.
"If the fans don't understand it, well I'm sorry, but I made the decision in order to give more balance to the team"
This result leaves Real just two points clear of rivals Barcelona and seven points clear of Atletico Madrid. Ancelotti was discontented with his side's performance in the first half, claiming his side lacked intensity and were too slow in their game.
"They're things that happen in football. In the first half we played too slowly, the opposite of what we did in the second half," he said.
Not enough chances
The Italian argued that Real didn't create enough chances except from the bombardment of crosses to the box from the wings and were moving the ball around too slowly.
"There were two parts. The first, in which we played at too slow a rhythm, we didn't create the chances apart from crosses into the centre, the ball moved around too slowly… In the second half things picked up a little; we had chances, but weren't effective converting them. But we had our opportunities."
Real Madrid's next league outing will see them travel to San Mames next weekend to face Athletic Bilbao. With Barcelona hot on their heels, Ancelotti will be hoping to get back to winning ways to help secure their 33rd league title.
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