Villarreal dent Madrid’s title hopes

Madrid : Real Madrid blew a chance to ramp up the pressure on La Liga leaders Barcelona in the title race as they fell 2-1 at Villarreal in a disjointed display on Saturday. Yeremy Pino and Gerard Moreno’s strikes either side of Karim Benzema’s penalty were enough to give the hosts a sixth consecutive victory across all competitions and dent the Spanish champions’ bid to retain the trophy.

Madrid remain level on points with league leaders Barcelona and this season the country’s two giants seem destined to tussle over the title themselves, with any ground ceded potentially vital.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side caught up with Barcelona last weekend but Madrid have not started 2023 particularly well. Madrid’s slim Spanish Cup victory over fourth-tier opponents Cacereno was followed by this bruising wake-up call at the renovated and newly reopened Estadio de la Ceramica, their second league defeat.

“The game was well-fought, well competed, (but) Villarreal played better than us,” Ancelotti told reporters. Danilo fires Juve second Danilo shot Juventus second in Serie A with the only goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Udinese, on the day the Turin giants honoured their deceased former captain Gianluca Vialli.

Massimilano Allegri’s team jumped one point above AC Milan and to within just four of league leaders Napoli thanks to a beautifully constructed goal finished off by the Brazilian defender four minutes from the end at the Allianz Stadium.

Danilo extended Juve’s league winning streak to eight games, a run in which they haven’t conceded a goal, after Federico Chiesa controlled fellow substitute Leandro Paredes’ delicate chip and then played a perfect pass across goal. That was one of the few clear-cut chances Juve created against eighth-placed Udinese who were missing their talisman Gerard Deulofeu and are winless in nine matches.

Nicolas Gonzalez scored a stoppage time winner for Fiorentina on his return from an over two-month absence to bring his team a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo. Argentine winger Gonzalez made his first appearance since late October as a second-half substitute and netted a late spot-kick following a Ruan Tressoldi handball. (AFP)

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