Real Madrid crisis deepens with home defeat to Villarreal

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MADRID: Stumbling La Ligachampions Real Madridslumped to a second defeat in three league games by losing 1-0 to Villarreal as their hapless title defence continued on a rain swept yesterday at a sparsely attended Santiago Bernabeu.

Zinedine Zidane’s side dominated the game but succumbed to an 87th minute strike from Pablo Fornals, who chipped over goalkeeper Keylor Navas on the rebound after a lightning quick counterattack as the visitors cleared a Real corner.

Madrid had a penalty appeal waved away in the first half when visiting defender Alvaro Gonzalez appeared to block a shot from Gareth Bale with his arm. Cristiano Ronaldo was thwarted from close range on the stroke of halftime by a breathtaking save from Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.

Real remain fourth in the Liga standings on 32 points and are only one point and one place above Villarreal.

They could be a stunning 19 points behind runaway leaders Barcelona if Ernesto Valverde’s side beat Real Sociedad yesterday. —Agencies

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