Benzema rescues point as Real struggle at Leganes
La Liga, Estadio Municipal de Butarque - CD Leganes 1 (Silva 45') Real Madrid (Benzema 51')
Real Madrid's domestic struggles resurfaced after they were held to an uninspiring 1-1 draw by mid-table Leganes on Monday night.
The hosts capitalised on a sluggish first half from their opponents as Mauricio Pellegrino's side took the lead on the stroke of the interval through Jonathan Silva, but Madrid responded thanks to Karim Benzema's 27th goal of the season, six minutes after the restart.
Leganes celebrate Jonathan Silva's openerGetty Images
Madrid struggled to contain Leganes' direct approach, and after Silva drove home from the edge of the box, but thankfully for the visitors, Benzema was on hand to level after Ivan Cuellar had saved his initial effort.
Gareth Bale came on for the final 10 minutes at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque, but it was Marcelo who came closest to snatching all three points as his shot was saved by Cuellar in the 84th minute.
The result leaves Madrid in third place in La Liga - four points adrift of Atletico Madrid in second, and 13 points behind leaders Barcelona, while Leganes move up to 11th.
Zinedine Zidane's side came close to completing the turnaround with 15 minutes remaining when Benzema turned provider to find Marco Asensio's run, but Cuellar reacted quickly to shut the angle and smother the shot.
After Bale's introduction, Madrid threw bodies forward in desperate search of a winner, and another delicate touch from Benzema found the marauding Marcelo on the left, but Cuellar was once more equal to his shot as the points were shared.
Marco Asensio shows his frustrationGetty Images
Zidane said afterwards: "We drew the game because of the first half. We were much better in the second, for sure, but in the end we've drawn the match.
"I don't feel great but I don't feel too bad either. I feel indifferent as they're a side that have shown themselves to not concede many goals at home.
"We were too slow in the first half. We've had a long time to train for this game on a Monday, and it was a good week of training, but we've not produced a great match. We have to move onto the next one quickly."
TALKING POINT - Can Gareth Bale regain his place?
Zidane may well have described his team's first-half performance as slow, but it wasn't until the 81st minute that he chose to introduce Bale, who was one of three changes from the Eibar win in Madrid's last outing.
Gareth Bale only played nine minutes off the benchGetty Images
With Leganes opting to play with attacking full-backs and a stubborn three-man defence, this game seemed suited to the Welshman down one of the flanks, but his latest insignificant cameo off the bench will only intensify the speculation surrounding his future.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Pellegrino set up his Leganes side to contain and frustrate Real, and were it not for the guile and trickery of Luka Modric, the hosts would have become the first side since Sevilla in the 2015/16 season to win at home to both Real and Barcelona in the same season.
It was Modric who found the pocket of space in between the Leganes lines 25 yards out before he unselfishly set up Benzema for his equaliser.
Luka Modric showed his quality in Madrid's midfieldGetty Images
The way he glided through this contest with a smile on his face, producing pass after pass demonstrated that while Madrid have virtually nothing left to play for, they still boast one of the best midfielders in world football.
8 - CLOSE! Real Madrid have the first opening, and Marco Asensio really should score. His late run into the box is found by Isco, but his left-foot shot is tame and easy for Cuellar to gather to his left.
15 - CHANCE!! What a glorious opportunity for the hosts. Bustinza's long free-kick is headed back across goal by Dimitrios Siovas, and his strike partner Martin Braithwaite is just five yards out, but he can only direct his header past Navas' right-hand post!
39 - NO PENALTY! Medié Jiménez is not listening to the appeals as Bustinza throws himself to the ground under a careless leg from Isco. The Leganes man may have got there first, right on the line of the penalty box, but there's not enough contact for that to be a penalty.
45 - GOAL! Leganes duly go down the other end and take the lead right on the stroke of half-time! It's another long throw that Madrid fail to deal with, and after Martin Braithwaite's works the ball to the edge of the box, it's the full-back Jonathan Silva who strokes his 18-yard shot to Navas' right into the net!
51 - GOAL! Real Madrid are level!! It's only taken them six minutes of this half to find the equaliser and it's Karim Benzema once more. After a nice turn from Modric, the Frenchman gets his shot away before Silva can block it, and after Cuellar makes the initial save to his left, Benzema is on hand to score the rebound before Omeruo can make the challenge!
75 - CHANCE! Madrid come so close to completing the turnaround as Cuellar does really well to shut off the angle and deny Asensio from Benzema's pass!
84 - SAVE! Strong hands from Cuellar now to deny Marcelo on the break as after Vazquez lays the ball off to Benzema, the striker shows brilliant feet to flick the ball away from Nyom and into the Brazilian's path, but Marcelo's left-foot drive is parried to safety!