Real Madrid dropped points in the race for the La Liga title on Saturday, only managing a 1-1 draw with Real Betis in Seville.
It was a tame first half between Betis and Madrid, both sides struggling to create too many goalscoring opportunities. Jude Bellingham cracked the game open with his 16th goal of the season on just his 18th appearance.
However, Aitor Ruibal powered home an emphatic effort midway through the second half, forcing the visitors to lose ground at the top of the table.
How the game unfolded
With high-flying Girona on their tails, Madrid knew that a victory in Seville would keep them top of La Liga for another week. There were early chances at both ends too, Marc Roca’s effort comfortably held by Andriy Lunin, while Luka Modric glanced a header well wide of Rui Silva’s goal.
Brahim Diaz thought he had handed the visitors the lead just before the 20-minute mark, but his tap-in was ruled out for Rodrygo’s offside in the build-up. Despite Carlo Ancelotti’s side dominating the ball at the Benito Villamarin, they struggled to test Silva.
Ayoze Perez did keep Lunin busy at the other end, however, as the former Leicester City forward fired a fierce effort that the Ukrainian goalkeeper rebuffed. Willian Jose also saw his strike from the edge of the box fly just wide of the post as Betis grew into proceedings.
Modric’s shot from distance was the best Madrid could muster before the end of a goalless first half, both sides only showing rare glimpses of quality in the final third.
Former Madrid man Isco almost gave the hosts an early second-half lead, prodding an effort towards goal that Lunin was able to block with a sprawling challenge, but it was that man Bellingham once again that broke the deadlock for Madrid.
The midfielder played a delightful one-two with Diaz, taking the ball down beautifully on his chest and calmly slotting beyond Silva. Another wonderful goal in what has been a simply sensational Madrid career to date.
Rodrygo came close to doubling Madrid’s advantage shortly afterwards following a mazy solo run, but it was Ruibal who would strike next after 66 minutes, thundering home a venomous effort from the edge of the area to equalise for Betis in some style.
Betis hit the post late on through Isco’s header, but neither side was able to find a crucial winner in the dying embers as Madrid surrendered two points in the title race.
GK: Andriy Lunin – 7/10 – Made some decent stops when called upon and was generally confident and commanding in his own penalty area. Had no chance with Ruibal’s strike.
RB: Lucas Vazquez – 7/10 – A better defensive performance from Vazquez than he has delivered at times this season, generally coping well down the right.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – 7/10 – Typically aggressive in the heart of the defence, making one crucial block in the first half to deny Jose.
CB: David Alaba – 6/10 – A solid outing from Alaba who was seldom tested defensively. Didn’t do too much wrong across the 90 minutes.
LB: Ferland Mendy – 6/10 – Betis’ main threat was Perez, who resided down Mendy’s left flank. Lost track of the forward on one occasion as the hosts got in behind him, but was usually up to the task defensively.
CM: Federico Valverde – 6/10 – Not a particularly memorable display from the Uruguayan, who often found himself too deep to influence the game.
CM: Toni Kroos – 7/10 – The midfielder’s excellent passing range was on show throughout as he dictated the tempo of the game. Couldn’t quite produce a moment of magic for Madrid.
AM: Luka Modric – 6/10 – Rolled back the years with some neat touches in the first half and did pop up with the odd chance while playing in a more advanced, almost false-nine role. Substituted after Betis’ equaliser.
AM: Jude Bellingham – 8/10 – Plenty of glimpses of his brilliance in the first half without causing Betis too many problems. That changed early in the second half, as Bellingham combined with Diaz beautifully to give Madrid the lead.
ST: Brahim Diaz – 7/10 – Wonderful dinked ball in behind the Betis backline to set up Bellingham, but wasn’t too involved otherwise.
ST: Rodrygo – 8/10 – Drifted into wide positions on the left-hand side and caused Ruibal all manner of problems. Some wonderful darting runs beyond the Betis defence too, just lacking a little end product. The only way the hosts could stop him was to foul him.
SUB: Dani Ceballos (70′ for Modric) – 6/10
SUB: Joselu (79′ for Diaz) – 6/10
SUB: Nicolas Paz (83′ for Kroos) – N/A
SUB: Nacho (83′ for Vazquez) – N/A
Subs not used: Kepa (GK), Gonzalez (GK), F. Garcia, G. Garcia.
Carlo Ancelotti – 6/10 – Not his side’s best performance, with a piece of Bellingham magic the only real highlight from a tepid affair. His substitutes weren’t able to change things.