Real Madrid were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at struggling Elche on Wednesday, losing ground in the La Liga title race to leaders Atletico Madrid.
A header from Luka Modric gave the champions the lead in the 20th minute, but Elche found a way back into the game when Fidel Chaves equalized from the penalty spot early in the second half.
Both sides had the opportunity to take all three points, with Elche forward Lucas Boye hitting the post, while Real defenders Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos were thwarted by fine saves from goalkeeper Edgar Badia.
Elche had one last chance to win the game when they got a free kick in added time, but defender Gonzalo Verdu’s shot was called off by Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The draw ended a six-game winning streak in all competitions for Real and left them second in the table with 33 points, two behind city rivals Atletico, who also have two games. in hand. Elche is 15th with 16 points.
“We started well but our opponents studied us well, they got everyone behind the ball and tried to hit us at the break and it’s not a huge surprise that we couldn’t win,” said the Real Casemiro midfielder.
Real had retreated into the title chase with a five-game winning streak in the league before the Christmas break and looked likely to score another after a great first half.
Toni Kroos missed the target with a free header and Marcelo blew the crossbar shortly before Modric put his team in front, after a thud from Marco Asensio who also hit the bar.
Zidane’s side had a penalty wrongly awarded for a block by an Elche player who the referee believed to have touched his arm, but the referee corrected the decision after reviewing it on the field monitor.
Elche troubled Courtois only once in the first half, but got a golden chance to level off when Carvajal was penalized for facing Antonio Barragan.
Courtois guessed the right path but Fidel’s sanction had too much power.
They had their impressive Badia to thank for keeping him that way, with the keeper refusing Ramos to get point-blank, moments after crossing his goal to repel a Carvajal shot.
Real record signing Eden Hazard returned after more than a month of absence but could not help her team secure the winner they dreamed of.
Meanwhile, Luis Surez directed Atletico Madrid to a 1-0 victory over Getafe in coach Diego Simeone’s 500th game, extending their lead at the top.
The Uruguayan striker’s powerful header from Yannick Carrasco’s free kick after 20 minutes was enough to secure the victory. It was Suarez’s eighth league goal this season since leaving Barcelona.
Serie B: Balotelli scores four minutes after his Monza debut
Mario Balotelli scored four minutes after making his debut for Serie B Monza on Wednesday, setting them up for a 3-0 win over leaders Salernitana in his first senior game since March.
The 30-year-old former Italy international, starting at the ninth club in his eventful career, was not marked at the far post for passing the ball at close range after a low cross.
The victory left Monza seeking promotion, who have never played in Serie A, two points behind their opponents.
Balotelli joined Monza this month and has been warned by Adriano Galliani, the club’s general manager, that this is “absolutely the last chance” to resurrect his career.