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Zidane at a loss to explain Real’s misery

More jeers for Ronaldo’s men after home loss to Villarreal

Image Credit: AFP
Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane and star striker Cristiano Ronaldo react during the La Liga match against Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday.
Gulf News

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

Madrid’s struggle in the Spanish league continued when they lost to Villarreal 1-0 on Saturday, 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 has 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 leaders Barcelona at the competition’s halfway point. The Catalan club can increase the gap when they play at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Madrid, who have a game in hand, is 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, because 16 points is far away.”

Zidane’s team has already lost more points (22) than in their 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.

In Ligue 1, Monaco stuttered to a 0-0 draw in the absence of Radamel Falcao at Montpellier on Saturday, while Marseille cruised to a victory over Rennes that kept them firmly in the Champions League race.

Colombian striker Falcao was again ruled out by a muscle injury that sidelined him for cup wins over Yzeure and Nice, and Monaco couldn’t break down the league’s meanest defence without their top scorer.

Brazilian left-back Jorge drew an excellent stop from Montpellier goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte, who then pulled off a terrific reflex save to deny Kevin N’Doram to preserve a 10th clean sheet of the season.



Saturday’s matches

La Liga

Girona 6 Las Palmas 0

Real Madrid 0 Villarreal 1

Eibar 0 Atletico Madrid 1

Deportivo La Coruna 1 Valencia 2

Ligue 1

Rennes 0 Marseille 3

Dijon 1 Metz 1

Montpellier 0 Monaco 0

Nice 1 Amiens 0

Troyes 0 Bordeaux 1

Caen 0 Lille 1