Cristiano Ronaldo returned from his five-game ban and Real Madrid failed to score for the first time in 74 matches as the Spanish champions were beaten 1-0 by Real Betis.
Antonio Sanabria got the winner in the 94th minute with a free back-post header past Keylor Navas. It was Betis first win at the Bernabeu in 19 years and the end of Madrid’s incredible scoring record.
Ronaldo was guilty of blasting high and wide on several occasions as the run of 73 straight matches scoring came to an end.
Real Betis keeper Antonio Adan pulled off save after save becoming the first keeper to stop Madrid scoring since Joe Hart the season before last in the Champions League semi-final against Manchester City. He pushed a Gareth Bale flicked volley on to his post in one of countless near misses and saved brilliantly from Borja Mayoral in Madrid’s last desperate attack.
Zinedine Zidane’s team had thrown so many men forward late on the gaps appeared at the back. Sanabria was ruled offside when he converted for Betis on 90 minutes but when the chance came again four minutes into injury time he did not miss and he was onside.
Madrid came into the game off the back of two home draws in the league. They have been starting slowly at the Bernabeu and conceding sloppy goals. It might have happened again had Dani Carvajal cleared off the line from Sanabria’s first chance.
Ronaldo then tried to score with a back-heel through a crowded six-yard box but Javi Garcia cleared off the line for Betis. And he was involved again when Marcelo felt he had been brought down in the box by the former Manchester City midfielder but referee Mateu Lahoz waved away the appeals.
The chances were coming at both ends with Victor Camarasa testing Keyor Navas and Luka Modric twice testing Adan with two shots, the first after a lung-busting run from the halfway line. He was Madrid’s best player in the first 45 minutes.
The spotlight was on Bale as always, especially with fans’ favourite Marco Asensio left on the bench. He teed-up Ronaldo but his shot was saved and then he crossed from the right only for Casemiro to take the header off of Ronaldo and fail to beat Adan.
There were two misses from Ronaldo in the first five minutes of the second half. With the first he slipped, missed his kick, and ended up on his backside. With some justification he blamed the pitch. The second was from an inch perfect cross from the left from Bale. This time there was no-one to blame but himself.
Francis Guerrero blasted over from a Betis counter-attack as they continued to threaten. And Carvajal then hit the post as Madrid continued to pour forward. It was incredible that the game was still 0-0. Ronaldo begain doing his best Diego Simeone impression trying to get the supporters behind the team. Zidane reacted by throwing on Asensio for the ineffective Isco.
Things got worse for Madrid when Marcelo hobbled off holding his hamstring. Madrid are already without their other left back Theo Hernandez. Lucas Vazquez came on and when Borja Mayoral came on too Madrid were now playing with five forwards, two in midfield and three at the back.
Bale, one of three players now operating at centre forward for Madrid, cleverly flicked a cross from the right but Adan was there again to push it on to the post. The former Madrid keeper who Jose Mourinho famously preferred to Iker Casillas was having the game of his life. And he was strong to the finish. Madrid were not and Sanabria was all alone in the area to head in the winner and stun the Bernabeu.