Tue | Jan 16, 2018

More jeers for Real after loss to Villarreal

Published:Sunday | January 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Zidane

MADRID (AP):

Another poor result, another round of jeers for Real Madrid.

Madrid's struggles in the Spanish league continued when they lost to Villarreal 1-0 yesterday, infuriating fans at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Pablo Fornals netted Villarreal's winner in the 87th minute, prompting loud boos by the home crowd who three days ago saw their team draw with second-division club Numancia 2-2 in the Copa del Rey.

"There is no explanation for this," coach Zinedine Zidane said. "We did everything we could, we had plenty of chances, but the ball just didn't go in. It's a difficult moment for us. It's tough for the players, they gave their best. We didn't deserve this result."

But Madrid have gone four matches without a win.

"We have endured negative results recently, but we know that we can change this situation by winning again," Zidane said. "We have to start winning, and winning convincingly, then things will change."

The defending champions were 16 points behind league leader Barcelona at the competition's halfway point. The Catalan club can increase the gap when it plays at Real Sociedad today.

Madrid, who have a game in hand, are only fourth in the standings, behind Valencia and Atletico Madrid.

"In our position, we have to look to qualify for the Champions League next year," midfielder Toni Kroos said. "This has to be our goal for the rest of the season."

Zidane's team has already lost more points (22) than in its entire title-winning campaign last season (21).

Villarreal moved to fifth place with the victory, their first ever at the Bernabeu.

"We knew we could make history," Villarreal coach Javier Calleja said. "We played a very smart match."

The hosts had most of the chances under steady rain. Cristiano Ronaldo, who was also jeered, hit the crossbar from a free kick, and he nearly scored from close range just before halftime but for a brilliant save by goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.

Gareth Bale had a goal disallowed for offside early in the first half.

Fornals' goal came after a great save by Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas following a counterattack. Fornals picked up the loose ball just outside the area and chipped it over the goalkeeper for the stunning winner.

It was Madrid's third home loss this season. They have won only half of their games at the Bernabeu.

 

ATLETICO STAY CLOSE

 

Second-place Atletico Madrid overcame Diego Costa's absence to beat Eibar 1-0 and move within six points of leaders Barcelona.

Kevin Gameiro, Costa's substitute, scored in the first half and Jan Oblak played solidly in goal for the rest of the match to secure Atletico their fourth straight win in all competitions.

"We played the type of match we needed," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.

Costa was suspended because of a red card for celebrating too close to the fans in the previous game.