Madrid, Spain: Real Madrid failed to capitalise on Atletico Madrid’s shock defeat by bottom club Alaves on Saturday as they were held to a goalless draw by a determined Villarreal in La Liga.
Dropped points for Spain’s leading pair allowed Sevilla to make up some ground at the top, with Julen Lopetegui’s side beating Espanyol 2-0 to jump above Atletico and into second.
Atletico had earlier slipped to their first loss of the season at Alaves who struck their first win, having lost all of their previous five games and failed to score in any of the previous four.
It meant Real Madrid could have gone five points clear by beating Villarreal but settled for a three-point lead after a scruffy performance came in stark contrast to their slick, 6-1 thrashing of Mallorca in midweek.
Marco Asensio scored three and Karim Benzema two in that game but both were quiet at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Carlo Ancelotti got his wish for tighter defending, but at the expense of his team’s fluidity in attack.
Villarreal, meanwhile, remain unbeaten yet have their own problems in front of goal, this their fifth draw from their opening six games, which is enough only for 10th.