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Villarreal draw ends Real's winning run

AFP logoAFP 22-09-2016
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo gestures after missing a goal during the football match between Real Madrid and Villarreal on September 21, 2016 © Provided by AFP Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo gestures after missing a goal during the football match between Real Madrid and Villarreal on September 21, 2016

Real Madrid's record-equalling 16-game La Liga win streak came to an end as Villarreal held out for a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

The European champions were looking to surpass the Liga mark of 16 wins first set by Pep Guardiola's Barcelona in 2010/11, but were made to pay for a sluggish first-half display.

Villarreal captain Bruno Soriano put the visitors in front from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time before Sergio Ramos levelled after the break.

And despite a surge of late pressure, Madrid couldn't find a winner as the returning Gareth Bale was substituted and Cristiano Ronaldo frustrated by the heroics of Villarreal keeper Sergio Asenjo.

Madrid extend their lead at the top over Barcelona to four points. However, the champions can close to within one when they face Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou later on Wednesday.

"We lacked intensity in the first-half," said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

"The second-half was great from everyone, but you can't always win the three points at the end.

"We know we have to work hard and change things, above all how we start the game."

Ronaldo and Bale returned to the Madrid side that won 2-0 at Espanyol on Sunday.

However, just as in their Champions League opener against Sporting Lisbon a week ago, Real were flat before the break as Villarreal enjoyed the better chances.

Denis Cheryshev, a summer signing from Madrid, was making his return to the Bernabeu after his selection whilst suspended saw Real thrown out of the Copa del Rey last season.

And the Russian international was unlucky not to give the visitors the lead when his rising drive was turned over by Kiko Casilla.

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (L) fights for the ball with Villarreal's Argentinian defender Mateo Musacchio (C) and Villarreal's midfielder Bruno Soriano © Provided by AFP Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (L) fights for the ball with Villarreal's Argentinian defender Mateo Musacchio (C) and Villarreal's midfielder Bruno Soriano

Nicola Sansone then fired acrobatically wide from the resulting corner.

At the other end, Ronaldo headed Madrid's best effort of the half into the grateful arms of Asenjo.

Villarreal got their reward just before half-time when Ramos handled Manu Trigueros's shot and referee Jose Luis Gonzalez pointed to the spot.

Captain Bruno stepped up and coolly chipped the ball down the middle of the goal past Casilla.

Ramos made amends right at the start of the second-half when he rose highest to head home James Rodriguez's corner.

Ronaldo was then inches away from turning home Dani Carvajal's low cross and Bale curled just wide as the pressure increased from Madrid.

However, their frustration spilled over when Ronaldo earned a yellow card for kicking out at Bruno.

The off-colour Bale was then replaced by Lucas Vazquez, whilst Karim Benzema made way for Alvaro Morata in the search for a winner.

Morata's header from Vazquez's cross was brilliantly turned over by Asenjo and when Ronaldo fired straight at the Villarreal stopper in the final minute, Real's shot at history was gone.

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