Real Madrid missed the chance to go five points clear at the top of La Liga as they were held to a goalless draw at home by Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
Atletico Madrid’s shock defeat to Alaves earlier in the day presented Carlo Ancelotti’s team with the opportunity to extend their advantage over their rivals, but they could only claim a draw to move three points ahead.
Villarreal dictated much of the first half as Real Madrid struggled to get hold of possession. Paco Alcacer could have opened the scoring, but was thwarted by Thibaut Cortois who was called upon more than once in the opening period.
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Eduardo Camavinga was introduced at the break to change the match for the home side and there was improvement in Real Madrid’s play, but Villarreal still carried a goal threat on the counter attack.
Carlo Ancelotti also substituted Eden Hazard and Isco on as Real Madrid looked for a way through.
However, it was the two goalkeepers - Thibaut Courtoius and Geronimo Rulli - who shone brightest as the two sides settled for a point apiece.
TALKING POINT - This was a reality check for Real Madrid
After winning at Mestalla against Valencia and sweeping aside Real Mallorca during the week, Real Madrid surely entered this match feeling good about their chances of imposing themselves further on La Liga. This, however, was a reality check for Ancelotti’s team who didn’t appear to have much of a game plan beyond throwing more attackers on when Villarreal refused to budge.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
It says a lot about how this match played out that Courtois was the best player on the pitch. Indeed, the Real Madrid goalkeeper was called upon more than once to stop Villarreal from finding the back of the net, particularly in the first half when the visitors to the Santiago Bernabeu were on top. In this sort of form, Courtois might well be considered the best goalkeeper in the game.
Courtois prevented an even more disappointing night for Real
Image credit: Getty Images
Real Madrid - Courtois 8, Valverde 4, Militao 5, Alaba 7, Nacho 6, Modric 5, Casemiro 5, Rodrygo 4, Asensio 5, Vinicius 6, Benzema 5. Subs - Isco 6, Hazard 5, Camavinga 7.
Villarreal - Rulli 7, Foyth 7, Albiol 7, P. Torres 6, Moreno 5, Capoue 5, Coquelin 7, Parejo 6, Pino 7, Alcacer 6, Danjuma 7. Subs - Pena 5, Dia 5, Gaspar 3, Gomez 5, Trigueros 4.
14’ Courtois makes the save! Danruma breaks between two Real Madrid defenders and gets the low strike away, but the Real Madrid goalkeeper tips the ball around the far post.
31’ Big chance for Villarreal! Pina breaks in behind, he checks back and sets up Alcacer for the strike, Courtois makes the save and then the block is made on the rebound as well!
50’ Headed wide! Asensio plays a wonderful freekick delivery into the box, Militao got on the end of it, but somehow managed to head wide when he should have struck the target!
58’ Across the face! How didn't that end up in the back of the net? Foyth headed down a freekick, Alcacer directed the ball across goal, but Torres couldn't stretch far enough at the back post!
85’ Isco header is blocked! Just for a second, it looked like Isco was going to head into the back of the net from eight yards out, but the block is made and then Rulli makes the save!
Real Madrid failed to register a shot on target in a first half of a La Liga home game for the first time since February 2020 (against Celta Vigo) and for the first time in a first half at home with Carlo Ancelotti in charge.
Thibaut Courtois has saved 23 of the last 27 shots on target he has faced for Real Madrid in all competitions (four goals conceded).
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