In an exciting matchup in La Liga, Real Madrid lost 3-2 to Villarreal in advance of their Champions League matchup against Chelsea the following week.
The champions are still 12 points behind league leaders Barcelona, who play Girona on Monday, despite Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze’s two-goal performance.
Madrid took the lead after Pau Torres’ own goal, but Chukwueze equalized before halftime.
Vinicius Junior scored an outstanding solo goal, Jose Luis Morales equalized, and Chukwueze curled in an outstanding winner to practically end Madrid’s chances of defending their crown.
With Chelsea’s visit on Wednesday in mind, Carlo Ancelotti made six changes from the 4-0 Clasico hammering of Barcelona in the Copa del Rey midweek.
But, in an effort to end the game quickly, the Italian coach stuck with his attacking trio of Vinicius, Rodrygo, and Karim Benzema.
After an energetic break in which Marco Asensio drove the team forward, Vinicius’ low cross rebounded off Torres and into his own net to give Real Madrid the lead in the 16th minute.
Villarreal’s veteran goalkeeper Pepe Reina made two fine saves to deny Benzema and Rodrygo as Madrid tried to stretch their advantage, while Madrid stopper Thibaut Courtois twice denied Alex Baena from distance.
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The visitors levelled late in the first half when Chukwueze’s magical footwork left defender Nacho Fernandez for dead, and the Nigerian finished clinically past Courtois.
Madrid came out flying in the second half and Vinicius scored a brilliant goal of his own, nutmegging defender Aissa Mandi to leave a crowd of perusers behind him, before slipping the ball home.
With 21 goals in all competitions, the Brazilian winger missed a chance to match his 22-goal season from the previous year after Benzema set him up.
The French forward, who had hat-tricks in both of his previous two matches, was taken off the field just before the hour mark to rest up for the Chelsea match.
In the 70th minute, Villarreal equalized when Chukwueze’s cross presented a threat and replacement Morales successfully finished.
Chukwueze’s goal was first disallowed for offside, however VAR revealed that the Nigerian was in fact onside.
Chukwueze put Villarreal in lead with a fantastic second goal with 10 minutes left by curling the ball from outside the box into the top corner.
Chukwueze was in the greatest form of his career as he scored his fifth goal in his last seven La Liga games.
Madrid was given a penalty as they fought to tie the score after the ball looked to contact Mandi’s arm as he slid over the ground.
Madrid was defeated because the referee reversed his penalty decision after consulting VAR footage.
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