Real Madrid slip off La Liga pace with Betis draw

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

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.

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