Real Madrid slip off La Liga pace with Betis draw
Zinedine Zidane suffered his first setback as Real Madrid boss as Los Blancos were held 1-1 at Real Betis on Monday to slip four points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona.
Atletico Madrid also spurned the chance to move back on top as they failed to break down 10-man Sevilla in a 0-0 draw at the Vicente Calderon. A point means Atletico and Barcelona are now level on points at the top of the table ahead of their meeting at the Camp Nou next weekend, although Barca also have a game in hand on both sides from the capital.
"All we missed was starting the game well. We knew it was going to be difficult from the first minute and it was hard at the start, but then with the game we played we deserved a lot more," said Zidane. "That is football. When you have chances you have to take them and we lacked a bit of luck too." Betis hadn't scored in their previous seven games as part of a 10-game winless streak, but needed just seven minutes to make the breakthrough in spectacular fashion.
Keylor Navas made a fine save to block Ruben Castro's first effort, but the ball eventually fell to Cejudo on the edge of the area, who unleashed a volley into the top corner Zidane himself would have been proud of in his playing days. Betis' intense start unsettled a Madrid side that had struck 10 goals in Zidane's first two games in charge, but the visitors slowly began to take control and Cristiano Ronaldo missed a huge chance to level when he scuffed his shot wide with just Antonio Adan to beat.
Pepe also sent a header wide when unmarked from point blank range and Benzema wrongly had a penalty appeal waived away when he was stood on by Petros.
However, Zidane's men did get a break for the equaliser 19 minutes from time when James Rodriguez appeared to be offside as he latched onto Toni Kroos's through ball and squared for Benzema to tap home his 21st goal in 20 games this season. Antonio Adan then produced two stunning saves to prevent Rodriguez and Benzema in as many minutes as Madrid piled on the pressure in search of a winner.