Villarreal 2-1 Real Madrid: Yeremy Pino and Gerard Moreno halt Galactico’s bid for LaLiga top spot


Villarreal 2-1 Real Madrid: Goals from Yeremy Pino and Gerard Moreno halt lacklustre Galactico’s charge for LaLiga top spot, with Yellow Submarine now going three games unbeaten in the league

  • Villarreal defeated Real Madrid 2-1 at the Estadio de la Cerámica on Saturday
  • Yeremy Pino’s thumping strike put the hosts ahead early in the second half 
  • Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema soon after halved the lead from the spot 
  • Gerard Moreno restored the host’s lead from another penalty two minutes later

Real Madrid fell to only their second defeat of the season when Villarreal beat them 2-1 in a thriller at the Ceramica Stadium.

With former Barcelona coach Quique Setien in the technical area and 40 year-old former Liverpool man Pepe Reina in goal, Villarreal summoned one of their best league performances in years to topple the reigning champions.

Gerard Moreno got the winner from the spot and with a near perfect display reminded everyone what Spain were missing when he was not fit enough to go to Qatar. But he was not the only hero in yellow.

Yeremy Pino's (L) thumping second half shot gave the home side a 1-0 lead over Madrid

Yeremy Pino’s (L) thumping second half shot gave the home side a 1-0 lead over Madrid

Karim Benzema levelled soon after from the spot after Juan Foyth handled the ball in the area

Karim Benzema levelled soon after from the spot after Juan Foyth handled the ball in the area

The 37-year-old Raul Albiol was a tower of strength in the centre of their defence as they sprung the surprise and shook up La Liga. 

The miracle of the first half was that it ended goalless – it was a carousel of close calls for both sides. First Villarreal could have been ahead in the fifth minute when Francis Coquelin’s clever back-heeled flick from Alberto Moreno’s cross hit the post. 

Madrid responded when Luka Modric sent an inspired pass through the legs of Alberto Moreno to Vinicius at the byline only for his cross to be blocked.

Eder Militao was playing at right-back, as he had for Brazil in the World Cup, and he should have assisted Madrid’s opener. 

Benzema’s cushioned pass sent him down the right and the ball should have been pulled back to the Frenchman but Militao went for goal and his shot deflected out for a corner.

After a long VAR review, Foyth seemed to handle a through ball to Madrid's Vinicius Junior (L)

After a long VAR review, Foyth seemed to handle a through ball to Madrid’s Vinicius Junior (L)

Gerard Moreno (L) restored the home sides lead just two minutes later with a cool spot-kick

Gerard Moreno (L) restored the home sides lead just two minutes later with a cool spot-kick

Gerard Moreno then put Yeremi Pino through and the 20-year-old only had Thibaut Courtois to beat. The Belgium keeper came out to block with his legs and save a certain goal.

At the other end the impressive Alex Baena shot just over from Samuel Chukwueze’s cross. Then Madrid broke when Benzema and Vinicius ganged up on Juan Foyth to rob him of possession but somehow the veteran Albiol held both Madrid raiders at bay.

The game was chaotic and a strange long diagonal back pass to his own area from Fede Valverde went out for a corner. The Uruguayan made amends clearing the corner. Benzema then teed up Vinicius but Reina saved with his right leg.

It was a frustrating first half for Madrid who failed to convert several outright chances

It was a frustrating first half for Madrid who failed to convert several outright chances 

Francis Coquelin's slick back-heel could have put the hosts up within five minutes of the match

Francis Coquelin’s slick back-heel could have put the hosts up within five minutes of the match

After the break the deadlock was broken inside two minutes. Ferland Mendy gave the ball away and when it was played quickly into Gerard Moreno he played it first time to Pino who scored despite Mendy’s best efforts to stop the ball on the line with his chest.

It was still: you have a chance, we’ll have a chance, and immediately Benzema sent a opportunity to equalise just wide. From Kroos’ cross from deep this time Militao tried to head across goal to Benzema instead of finishing himself.

Benzema is not finishing as clinically as last season and the greatest evidence of that came on 56 minutes when Vinicius teed him up on the edge of the six-yard box. There were three players on the line and Benzema’s shot was cleared by one of them, Foyth. 

20-year-old Pino scored his first LaLiga goal of the season having made 14 appearances

20-year-old Pino scored his first LaLiga goal of the season having made 14 appearances

But it was disappointment for Benzema who, despite scoring, couldn't galvanise his side

But it was disappointment for Benzema who, despite scoring, couldn’t galvanise his side 

Vinicius had seen something in the build-up – an earlier hand from Foyth as he tried to prevent the Brazilian crossing. It was harsh but it was there on camera when referee Javier Iglesias Villanueva went across to check. Benzema stepped up and this time he was clinical from the spot sending Reina the wrong way.

In keeping with the spirit of such a crazy game Madrid’s Alaba immediately handled in the other area and Gerard Moreno – as Benzema had done at the other end – sent the keeper the wrong way. 

It was another harsh handball. Alaba had slipped and almost seemed to be trying to get his hand out of the way. Villarreal deserved it though and were back in front.

Madrid were getting increasingly nervous. Vinicius demanded a card for Albiol when the defender flattened him and the yellow was duly shown. He risked a caution himself when he pushed Pau Torres over when the defender kicked the ball away.

The last chance fell to the Brazilian with two minutes left. He clipped it over and had made his run a fraction too soon so it wouldn’t have counted anyway. An exhausted Gerard Moreno was taken off just after that chance.

His penalty had won an extraordinary game that moved Villarreal up to fifth and left Madrid pointless with Barcelona above them and Atletico Madrid below them, still to play on Sunday.

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