Peeved Ronaldo subbed as Real held to draw by Las Palmas
ASUBSTITUTED Cristiano Ronaldo cut a disconsolate figure as Real Madrid conceded a late equaliser to draw 2-2 at Las Palmas on September 24. Earlier, Barcelona shrugged off the absence of the injured Lionel Messi to move to within a point of Madrid at the top of the table, as Luis Suarez and Neymar led a 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Gijon.
Ronaldo was replaced moments after helping Madrid go ahead 2-1, when Karim Benzema slotted home a rebound after the Portuguese star’s initial shot was saved.
The three-time World Player of the Year watched from the bench as Sergio Araujo took advantage of some soft Madrid defending to tie, and the European champions dropped points for the second time in four days.
Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insisted that, despite a sub-par display, Ronaldo had been replaced to keep him fresh for tomorrow’s Champions League trip to Borussia Dortmund.
“We have another game [tomorrow] and he has to rest too now and again,” Zidane told Spanish TV station Movistar.
“I have to take him off sometimes and tonight we did it.”
Stung by a poor first-half performance in a 1-1 draw with Villarreal last week that snapped a 16-game La Liga winning streak, Madrid pressed high, with 17 shots in a wide-open first 45 minutes.
Real broke through just after the half-hour mark when Javi Varas made a fine save on Nacho’s low effort, but Marco Asensio followed up to head into an empty net.
The lead lasted just five minutes though, as Raphael Varane’s poor defensive header fell at the feet of Tana, who slotted past the helpless Real keeper Kiko Casilla.
Varas denied Ronaldo midway through the second half, but substitute Benzema was on hand to turn home the loose ball.
Ronaldo was then replaced by Lucas Vazquez, and didn’t acknowledge Zidane as he sulked off the field. He has played a complete 90 minutes just once in Madrid’s six La Liga games so far this season.
Of most concern for Madrid is their leaky defence, as they have now kept just one clean sheet in their last six games.
Earlier, Barcelona overcame a difficult opening half hour to hit five past 10-man Sporting Gijon. Yet Barca coach Luis Enrique was far from satisfied with his side’s display, particularly early in the second half.
“It is a result that doesn’t tell the true story of the game – 5-0 makes it seem easy and simple and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.
“We were poor at the start of the second half. We didn’t kill the game off and Sporting could have got back into the game.”
One moment of Suarez magic turned the game in Barca’s favour, as he raced onto Arda Turan’s through ball and flicked it past the onrushing Ivan Cuellar before slotting into an empty net.
A fine team goal put the game beyond Sporting moments later, as Neymar freed Sergi Roberto down the right and Rafinha met his cross with a powerful near-post header.
Gareth Bale had been the star member of Madrid’s front line most often sacrificed by Zidane in recent weeks, as the Welshman was replaced in each of his last three outings.
However, Bale looked close to the form that saw him shine toward the end of last season and at Euro 2016, and believes Ronaldo will also need time to return from a two-month injury layoff after the Euros. “He’s been working hard on his injuries since he came back,” said Bale.
Bale is yet to score since the opening day of the La Liga season, but insists the goals will arrive if Real continue to create the number of chances they did in the Canary Islands.
“We’re not happy to lose four points, but if you look at the league overall we are in a good position,” he added.
Sevilla missed the chance to go level with Madrid at the top, as they suffered their first league defeat of the season, 3-1, at Athletic Bilbao. –
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo sulks after missing a goal against Villarreal CF in Madrid on September 21.