By O’Ben The SportsMan
Real Madrid’s faltering start to the Spanish league season continued on Wednesday with a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Real Betis. A day after league leader Barcelona routed Eibar 6-1 with four goals by Lionel Messi for its fifth win in a row, Madrid conceded an injury-time goal to remain winless in its three league games so far at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Paraguayan striker Antoino Sanabria scored the winner with a header from close range to give Betis its first win against Madrid at the Bernabeu since 1998. The result ended Madrid’s streak of 73 consecutive games scoring at least one goal, keeping it from surpassing the record scoring run established by Brazilian club Santos starring Pele in 1963.
Madrid, which was coming off home draws against Valencia and Levante, is seven points behind Barcelona after five games. It trails Betis by one point. “This gap to the lead won’t change the way we do things,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We will keep fighting. It’s a long championship.”
Second-place Sevilla moved within two points of Barcelona by beating Las Palmas 1-0 for its fourth consecutive league victory. Third-place Atletico won 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao.
Real Betis players celebrated as if they had won a title after the stunning win over Madrid at the Bernabeu.
“We knew we were coming to play in a complicated stadium, but the team put in a great effort and got rewarded with the late goal,” Sanabria said.
Betis took advantage of a great performance by goalkeeper Antonio Adan and a bad night by Madrid’s forwards, including Cristiano Ronaldo, who was making his league debut after serving a five-game suspension for shoving a referee in the Spanish Super Cup final last month.
“It was bad luck after all the chances that we created,” Madrid midfielder Casemiro said.
Ronaldo had played only three other matches with Madrid this season, including against APOEL in the team’s Champions League debut, when he scored twice.
“This is not the start we wanted after three games at home,” Zidane said. “We didn’t expect this.”