BARCELONA ( Associated Press) – Real Madrid suffered a tough blow, risking falling behind in their battle for top spot in Spain’s La Liga against Barcelona.
Yeremey Pino and Gerard Moreno converted the goals as Villarreal celebrated a 2-1 win over Meringue on Saturday, extending their winning streak to six games in all competitions.
Pino opened the account in the 47th minute by taking advantage of a mistake in the rear.
Moreno got the second goal on 63, thanks to a penalty marked by a handball in the area by David Alaba.
Karim Benzema momentarily tallied 60 in 11 steps after VAR intervention marked the maximum penalty for a handball by Juan Foyth.
For the first time in its 121-year history, Real Madrid started the game without Spanish footballers. The blow leaves them in second place in the overall table with 38 points, the same as leaders Barcelona, who could be away in their duel against Atlético de Madrid for the round of 16 on Sunday.
The starting Meringues were one Belgian (Thibaut Courtois), three French (Benzema, Ferland Mendy and Aurélien Tchoumeny), two Brazilians (Vinicius Junior and Eder Militão), two Germans (Antonio Rudiger and Toni Kroos), one Croatian (Luka Modrić) . , one Austrian (David Alaba) and one Uruguayan (Federico Valverde). The Spaniards entered until the complement of Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio.
The “Yellow Submarines” continue in a state of grace with tactician Quique Setien as he celebrates his sixth win in all competitions (three in the league and three in the Copa del Rey) to climb to 5th place with 27 points.
Vazquez said, “It was a very open match, with chances for both sides.” “We don’t take anything for the little details here…to see mistakes and try to fix them.”
The win ends a run of five draws that both teams celebrated in a duel at the La Ceramica ground in which the hosts showed superior form from the outset.
Before going to the fore, Frenchman Francis Coquelin was close to breaking the void with a superb shot with his back to goal, which crashed into the base of the post in a whirlwind start by the hosts.
Pino showed his superiority on the scoreboard in one of the first approaches of the complement after finishing a goal following a mistake by Ferland Mendy.
Benzema celebrated his eighth goal of the course, his tenth of the season, thanks to a penalty awarded after referee César Soto Grado called for VAR to indicate a handball.
But the taste for meringues did not last long when Soto Grado assessed an action by Alaba as he fell to the ground and the ball hit his hand three minutes later as a penalty handball. Moreno converted from the penalty spot to make it three goals in the championship.
40-year-old veteran goalkeeper Pepe Reina took over at Villarreal after Argentine Jerónimo Rulli was sold to Ajax Amsterdam.
The two teams will meet again very soon when Villarreal will once again host the Merengues in their Copa del Rey round of 16 tie on January 18.
Real Madrid will resume the La Liga calendar until January 22 with their visit to Athletic Bilbao, starting next week they face the Spanish Super Cup with their semi-final duel against Valencia at Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd Stadium.
Mallorca Honra in Scaloni
Mallorca beat Valladolid 1–0 with a goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time, in a special clash in which the Balearic team paid tribute to their former player and recent World Cup champion coach Lionel Scaloni in Qatar with Argentina .
Prats resolved the duel after coming on as a substitute on 84. The win leaves Mallorca in tenth place with 22 units. Valladolid is in 15th place with 17.
Between 2008 and 2009 Scaloni was recognized as a footballer by the team he was a member of. He received a shirt with his number and name on it for his achievement with the Argentina team at the World’s Fair.
Girona rescues a tie in the derby
Venezuela’s Yangel Herrera scored in the final stretch as Girona avoided a 2–1 draw against Espanyol, who remain in the relegation zone.
Herrera scored against his former team after 85 minutes; The club took the lead on 32 through Tony Villa.
Javier Puado (51) and José Luis Mato “Joselu” (76) made a momentary comeback for the Parrots, but the team could not hold on to the lead.
Girona retains 12th position with 18 units; Espanyol remain at the 18th position with 14 points.