Real Madrid crisis deepens with home defeat to Villarreal

Real Madrid missed the chance to close the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona as they were beaten at home

Stumbling La Liga champions Real Madrid slumped to a second defeat in three league games by losing 1-0 to Villarreal as their hapless title defence continued on a rain swept Saturday at a sparsely attended Santiago Bernabeu.

Zinedine Zidane's side dominated the game but succumbed to an 87th minute strike from Pablo Fornals, who chipped over goalkeeper Keylor Navas on the rebound after a lightning quick counterattack as the visitors cleared a Real corner.

Madrid had a penalty appeal waved away in the first half when visiting defender Alvaro Gonzalez appeared to block a shot from Gareth Bale with his arm. Cristiano Ronaldo was thwarted from close range on the stroke of halftime by a breathtaking save from Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.

Real remain fourth in the Liga standings on 32 points and are only one point and one place above Villarreal. They could be a stunning 19 points behind runaway leaders Barcelona if Ernesto Valverde's side beat Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Later on Saturday, second-placed Atletico Madrid play away to Eibar while third-placed Valencia visit Deportivo La Coruna.

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