Real Madrid were made to fight hard at times by the Yellow Submarine today, but on the end--even without you-know-who--their attacking skill was too much for Villarreal.
Madrid took a two-goal lead within 25 minutes, courtesy of some poor Villarreal defending. The opening goal was created by Chechu Dorado, who dawdled on the ball, Gareth Bale stole it from him and showed why he was worth at least some of that money Madrid paid for him with a clinical finish. Bale turned provider for the second goal, turning Jaume Costa inside out and crossing the ball for Karim Benzema, who beat Musacchio to the near post and shot past Asenjo.
Even so, Villarreal looked the better side for good stretches of the half, but the front four of Moi, Aquino, Gio and Jony just weren't clicking. Jony missed the best chance, putting the ball in the stands rather than on net when in front of the goal with only the keeper to beat. Shortly before halftime we got the goal we deserved, coming from Mario Gaspar of all people--he beat Diego López with a diagonal screamer from just inside the box.
HT Real Madrid 2-1 Villarreal
Villarreal began the second half well, but the Madrid defense was able to block things off, and Jese Rodriguez, who scored against us both matches on the Segunda last year when he played for Castilla, did so again, with a nice run beween our two center backs and a touch past the diving Asenjo in the 64th minute to make it 3-1.
Manu Trigueros, who had not started due to a fever, and new man Joan Roman had come on for Edu Ramos and Moi by now, and the third change came in the 68th minute when Perbet replaced Jony. His last contribution was to win a dangerous free kick, and Gio dos Santos promptly scored from it. 3-2, and all to play for.
There was surely at least another goal in this match, but sadly for Villarreal it came from a Madrid counterattack in the 75th minute, created when Manu and Joan Roman couldn't control the ball at the top of the Madrid penalty box. Karim Benzema scored his second of the game, firing a low shot home from the top of the area--our defense was nowhere near him.
After that the game just petered out--Madrid were content to pass the ball around without leaving themselves exposed at the back, and Villarreal looked pretty spent to be honest.
FT Real Madrid 4-2 Villarreal. You can watch all goals here.
Marcelino said after the match we were far from our best, and while some of that may have been due to the absences of players such as Cani and Uche, it's a fair statement. Gio worked hard as provider and goal-scorer, but the wing play from Aquino and Moi just wasn't good enough. When we tried to go down the middle of the pitch, things got clogged, and we never were able to generate enough width to create much. And the substitutions, while they were logical at the time, didn't add anything. Manu was well off his game, and overall we lacked confidence and any sort of flow in the last 20-25 minutes.
I'm expecting to see some changes for next week--maybe Jokic and Gabriel in the back line? Much for Marcelino to think about, because we have not played that well in several recent matches now.
The officiating: There was one blown call early on, Gio whstled for a nonexistent offside when he would have been in 1-on-1 with the keeper. Madrid had a couple of penalty shouts for handball (I think not) and one for a foul in the box on Benzema (maybe). So, no real impact on the match there--we lost this one fair and square.