Spanish La Liga
Villarreal2Real Madrid2

Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid: Santi Cazorla double frustrates Solari's men

Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla scored his first La Liga goals for Villarreal since he returned to the club this season

Santi Cazorla proved his class as he scored twice for Villarreal to deny Real Madrid a chance to make further inroads on La Liga leaders Barcelona.

The visitors, who made a pre-Christmas trip to the Club World Cup, looked tired and faced a rejuvenated Cazorla, who has suffered a long injury lay-off.

His curler earned an early lead before Karim Benzema's header made it 1-1.

Raphael Varane nodded in to put Real ahead, but Cazorla's late header moved Villarreal out of the relegation zone.

Santi Solari's Real remain fourth, seven points behind Barcelona, four behind second-placed Atletico Madrid and two behind third-placed Sevilla.

Real's night was not improved by Gareth Bale being substituted at half-time with what appeared to be a calf injury.

And they were made to pay by a Villarreal team, who merited at least a point for their superior attacking endeavour and had a midfielder who showed why he was so revered while at former club Arsenal.

Samuel Chukwueze
Nigerian teenager Samuel Chukwueze showed why he is coveted by some of Europe's leading clubs with a threatening display

Cazorla shows class is permanent

The hosts were inspired by Cazorla, who scored his first La Liga goals of the season after a nightmare two years following an horrific Achilles tendon injury, which needed 11 operations.

The 34-year-old returned to his former club Villarreal last summer after six years with the Gunners, but he had spent the last two on the sidelines leading to doubts about his ability to walk because of bacteria "eating" eight centimetres of his ankle tendon.

His opener showed the kind of grace which lit up north London for four years, when he latched onto the impressive Samuel Chukwueze's pass and curled a right-footed shot past the out-stretched Thibaut Courtois.

A rare header from the diminutive Spaniard, which left the home crowd in raptures following Pablo Fornals' cross, also proved Cazorla had lost none of his nous on when to arrive in the penalty area.

Karim Benzema
Real were frustrated by Villarreal, who looked superior for long periods of the game

Real struggle to lift themselves after reduced break

Real had six days' less rest than Villarreal coming into the game thanks to their Club World Cup win in Abu Dhabi, which came on 22 December.

And after a frustrating season where they replaced former manager Julen Lopetegui with Solari in October, they appeared to lack sharpness as they were tested from the start by Nigerian 19-year-old Chukwueze, who has been linked with Arsenal.

The teenager tested Courtois before setting up Cazorla's opener and was a constant thorn in Marcelo's side down the Villarreal right.

The visitors' two headed goals seemed to catch out Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo on both occasions, but he redeemed himself when saving from Lucas Vazquez in the second half when the Real forward was clean through on goal.

Bale made little impact before he was replaced by Isco, but it was Luis Garcia's home team who posed the greater threat in the second period and their equaliser was fully deserved as they boosted their hopes of staying in the top flight by moving above Athletic Bilbao on goal difference.

Line-ups

Villarreal

  • 1Asenjo
  • 24Layún
  • 3GonzálezBooked at 45mins
  • 6Ruiz
  • 11CostaBooked at 90mins
  • 5CáseresSubstituted forToko Ekambiat 63'minutes
  • 18Fuego MartínezSubstituted forTrigueros Muñozat 82'minutes
  • 30Chukwueze
  • 8Fornals
  • 19Cazorla
  • 7MorenoSubstituted forBaccaat 68'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Funes Mori
  • 9Bacca
  • 13Fernández
  • 14Trigueros Muñoz
  • 16Pedraza
  • 17Toko Ekambi
  • 28Morlanes

Real Madrid

  • 25Courtois
  • 2Carvajal
  • 5Varane
  • 4RamosBooked at 89mins
  • 12Marcelo
  • 8KroosSubstituted forVinícius Júniorat 86'minutes
  • 14CasemiroBooked at 41mins
  • 10ModricSubstituted forValverdeat 64'minutes
  • 17Vázquez
  • 9Benzema
  • 11BaleSubstituted forIscoat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Navas
  • 6Nacho
  • 15Valverde
  • 22Isco
  • 23Reguilón
  • 24Ceballos
  • 28Vinícius Júnior
Referee:
Pablo González Fuertes
Attendance:
19,903

Match Stats

Home TeamVillarrealAway TeamReal Madrid
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home12
Away14
Shots on Target
Home4
Away7
Corners
Home6
Away4
Fouls
Home12
Away13

Live Text

Match ends, Villarreal 2, Real Madrid 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Villarreal 2, Real Madrid 2.

Foul by Vinícius Júnior (Real Madrid).

Manu Trigueros (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Casemiro (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Karl Toko Ekambi (Villarreal).

Booking

Jaume Costa (Villarreal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Jaume Costa (Villarreal).

Booking

Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

Carlos Bacca (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Real Madrid. Vinícius Júnior replaces Toni Kroos.

Attempt saved. Isco (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Daniel Carvajal.

Offside, Villarreal. Pablo Fornals tries a through ball, but Carlos Bacca is caught offside.

Attempt blocked. Isco (Real Madrid) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Federico Valverde.

Goal!

Goal! Villarreal 2, Real Madrid 2. Santi Cazorla (Villarreal) header from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pablo Fornals.

Substitution

Substitution, Villarreal. Manu Trigueros replaces Javi Fuego.

Corner, Villarreal. Conceded by Daniel Carvajal.

Offside, Real Madrid. Isco tries a through ball, but Karim Benzema is caught offside.

Offside, Real Madrid. Marcelo tries a through ball, but Karim Benzema is caught offside.

Isco (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Miguel Layún (Villarreal).

Attempt missed. Álvaro González (Villarreal) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Santi Cazorla with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Villarreal. Conceded by Sergio Ramos.

Attempt blocked. Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Karl Toko Ekambi.

Foul by Federico Valverde (Real Madrid).

Pablo Fornals (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Villarreal. Carlos Bacca replaces Gerard Moreno.

Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Karl Toko Ekambi (Villarreal).

Attempt blocked. Marcelo (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Raphael Varane.

Isco (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Javi Fuego (Villarreal).

Attempt blocked. Federico Valverde (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by Álvaro González.

Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by Sergio Asenjo.

Attempt saved. Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Attempt missed. Gerard Moreno (Villarreal) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, Real Madrid. Federico Valverde replaces Luka Modric.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Barcelona17114248192937
2Atl Madrid1797125121334
3Sevilla1795330171332
4Real Madrid179352621530
5Alavés178451917228
6Real Betis177552019126
7Getafe176741813525
8Valencia1741031514122
9Girona175751820-222
10Levante176472832-422
11Celta Vigo175662826221
12Real Valladolid175661619-321
13Eibar175662125-421
14Espanyol176381824-621
15Real Sociedad175481820-219
16Leganés174761620-419
17Villarreal173771923-416
18Ath Bilbao1721051624-816
19Rayo Vallecano1734101732-1513
20Huesca1715111534-198
View full Spanish La Liga table

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