Villarreal vs. Real Madrid – Football Match Report – January 7, 2023

Real Madrid suffered a 2-1 defeat at Villarreal on Saturday after a goal and assist from striker Gerard Moreno, giving leaders Barcelona a chance to move ahead in the title race.

Real stay second, level on 38 points with Barca who visit fourth-placed Atletico Madrid on Sunday, while Villarreal’s third straight league win moves them up to fifth spot.

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Madrid named a starting XI without a single Spanish player for the first time in the club’s 121-year history.

Villarreal dominated from the start, with Francis Coquelin rattling the woodwork in the fifth minute before Yeremy Pino was denied by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from close range, but the hosts were unable to break the deadlock in the first half.

There was no let up from Villarreal after the break though and the pressure told in the 47th minute when Moreno saw Pino free to charge at goal and unleash a fierce shot into the net.

Villarreal were briefly pegged back when a handball by Juan Foyth gave the visitors a penalty, which was expertly dispatched by Karim Benzema on the hour — moving him level on all-time LaLiga goals with Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano.

The hosts got a penalty of their own two minutes later when a falling David Alaba handled the ball. Moreno converted from the spot after Madrid’s protests had calmed down, sending Courtois the wrong way to secure the win.

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