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LIGA | BETIS - REAL MADRID

Real Madrid fall further behind in title race after Betis draw

Real Madrid fall further behind in title race after Betis draw

MARCELO DEL POZO

REUTERS

A Cejudo screamer put Betis in front in the sixth minute but Real Madrid swarmed their hosts in the second half and levelled matters, albeit from an offside position.

All the speculation about who Zinedine Zidane would draft in to replace Gareth Bale was put to rest with the Real Madrid manager opting for James Rodríguez over Jesé in his starting line-up at the Benito Villamarín. The Colombian didn't exactly set the world alight after getting the Frenchman's vote of confidence, nor did Danilo who was picked over fan favourite Dani Carvajal at right back.

Betis put an end to their six-match goal drought in the sixth minute against Zidane’s Madrid. Cejudo imitated the Frenchman with a peach of a strike from the edge of the box that wound up in the top corner of the visitors’ net.

Los Verdiblancos showed great strength in the opening half with N’Diaye pulling the strings in midfield and Petros playing the role of hatchet man to keep Kroos and Modric quiet.

Real Madrid had chances to draw level but poor finishing let them down. Ronaldo fluffed a left-footed shot with just ex-team-mate Adan to beat and then Pepe sent a header wide from five yards out shortly afterwards.

Benzema could feel hard done by when Juan Martinez waved away his pleas for a penalty after the France international was clearly taken down by Petros just as he was lining up for a shot.

Petros then recklessly barged into the side of Kroos but again the referee kept his cards in his pocket.

Madrid played with far more urgency in the second half as Betis’ energy levels began to wane. Los Blancos kept knocking on the door but couldn’t find a way past Adan, who was in inspiring form against his former club.

James miskicked a knock down from Ronaldo from five yards out and then the Betis goalkeeper was at hand to deny Benzema with his follow up shot. The Colombian came close again a few minutes later when he sent a volley straight at Adan.

But there was nothing Iker Casillas’ former understudy could do for Madrid’s equaliser. Kroos picked out James who was in a clear offside position but the linesman kept his flag down as the South American squared the ball to Benzema who made no mistake with an open net in front of him.

Betis had a penalty claim of their own when Raphael Varane stamped on Ceballos, but again the referee wouldn't point to the spot.

In the heart-thumping finale of the match, Betis made a rare break forward with Ruben Castro skipping past the challenges of two Madrid defenders before unleashing a shot from distance that went just wide of the mark.

Real Betis line-up: Adán, Molinero, Pezzella, Bruno, Vargas, N'Diaye, Petros, Kadir, Fabián, Cejudo and Rubén Castro.

Real Madrid line-up: Keylor Navas, Marcelo, Varane, Pepe, Danilo, Kroos, Isco, Modric, James, Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema.

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