Ronaldo misses penalty, Madrid lose ground
BARCELONA, Spain (AP):
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal, but missed a penalty as Real Madrid were held 1-1 at Malaga yesterday to drop nine points behind leaders Barcelona.
Ronaldo put the visitors in front with a header in the 33rd minute, but missed a chance to increase the lead a couple of minutes later when his spot kick was saved by Malaga goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. The hosts equalised through defender Raul Albentosa in the 66th.
Madrid needed a victory to stay nearer the lead after Barcelona won 2-1 at Las Palmas on Saturday.
Real Madrid have 13 games left to try to stop Barcelona from successfully defending their title for a second consecutive year.
"We are not done yet, we only lost two points," Real Madrid; coach Zinedine Zidane said. "There are a lot of games left. The other teams can also lose points."
It will be difficult, though, as Barcelona haven't lost in 32 games and have won eight in a row in the league. Real Madrid have been dominant at home since Zidane took over the squad, but they drew two of their three away league games. The only victory came with a late winner against Granada.
NO GIVING UP
"We never give up," Real Madrid left back Marcelo said. "It's a big difference, but we will fight until the end."
Some of Spain's top sports newspapers ran headlines saying Madrid's title run was over.
"Real Madrid says goodbye to league title," both Marca and AS said on their websites after the game.
Madrid struggled from the start at La Rosaleda Stadium in Malaga, allowing the hosts to create several scoring chances. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas did well in keeping Malaga from scoring more goals.
Replays showed Ronaldo was offside when he opened the scoring with a header after a cross by Toni Kroos. The ball appeared to bounce off Ronaldo's back or shoulder before going in. It was Ronaldo's 22nd league goal in 25 rounds. Luis Suarez, who scored on Saturday, leads the league with 25 goals.
Both teams had opportunities to score towards the end of the match, but it was Malaga who got on the board with a close-range shot by Albentosa after a cross by Brazilian defender Weligton.
The home draw left Malaga 11th in the 20-team standings with 31 points.