Ronaldo and Madrid can’t find the target in 1-0 loss
Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of Real Madrid’s star-studded attack didn’t produce a single shot on goal in a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday as the Spanish leaders stumbled for a second straight week in the race for the league title.
Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz rose to head in the game’s only goal in the 26th minute, and 20-year-old strike partner Inaki Williams was also effective.
Madrid’s best chance came toward the end when Gareth Bale’s long lob hit the post.
Madrid, which drew at home to Villarreal in the last round, was left two points ahead of Barcelona. The Catalan club can go top by beating Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
“We gave the game away,” said Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Less than three months ago, Madrid was unbeatable, finishing 2014 with a Spanish record 22-winning streak. Since then, injuries, tired first-choice players and tougher competition have brought the reigning European champions down to earth.
Since the winter break, Madrid has lost three times and drawn once in 11 league games and has also exited the Copa del Rey. It hosts Schalke on Tuesday in the Champions League looking to make good on its 2-0 lead in their round-of-16 tie.
Bilbao got the better of Madrid in a free-flowing match that saw both sides attack at a high tempo but neither managed to create many scoring opportunities.
Ronaldo was held in check, Karim Benzema was barely noticeable, and Bale could only threaten with his desperate long-range attempt as he went without a goal for the eighth consecutive match.
Elsewhere, forward Victor “Vitolo” Machin scored twice to lead Sevilla’s entertaining 4-3 win at Deportivo La Coruna.
Paris Saint-Germain warmed up for next week’s Champions League game against Chelsea with a 4-1 win over Lens that moved it provisionally top of the French league.
Despite the morale-boosting win, PSG coach Laurent Blanc was critical of his players for not scoring more against a side mired in 19th place and facing near-certain relegation.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted his 12th league goal of the season with a penalty after David Luiz — playing in a midfield role — opened the scoring with a free kick late in the first half.
Midfielder Blaise Matuidi and winger Javier Pastore came off the bench to score second-half goals after Lens striker Yoann Touzghar pulled a goal back.
Lyon was two points behind PSG, and can reclaim top spot with victory at sixth-place Montpellier on Sunday. Marseille was three points behind PSG in third.
Aston Villa’s win over West Bromwich Albion in a heated FA Cup quarterfinal was marred by crowd trouble, with seats thrown by visiting fans and home supporters invading the field during and after the game.
Five days after defeating West Brom to end a 12-match winless run in the Premier League, Villa beat its Midlands rival again in the cup thanks to second-half goals by Fabian Delph and Scott Sinclair in a 2-0 victory. Each side had a player sent off in the closing minutes.
There were worrying scenes toward the end of the derby match, as West Brom fans threw seats into the section of the crowd below them containing Villa supporters.
Some Villa supporters jumped over the hoardings and ran onto the pitch during stoppage time in premature celebration, before several hundred fans invaded the field of play as the final whistle sounded.
Defending champion Bayern Munich restored an 11-point lead in the Bundesliga by beating Hannover 3-1 as Wolfsburg fell to a 1-0 defeat in Augsburg to end an 11-match unbeaten run.
Bayern’s first two goals came from questionable refereeing decisions — the first a free kick and the second a penalty. But Thomas Mueller scored with a header in the 72nd to secure the victory with his second goal of the match.
Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund drew 0-0 in Hamburg to drop points after four straight wins, Schalke beat Hoffenheim 3-1 and Werder Bremen won 1-0 in Freiburg.
Also, Shinji Okazaki scored after going nine matches without a goal to earn Mainz a 2-2 draw with Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Substitute Nico Lopez equalized in the fifth minute of added time and Hellas Verona drew 2-2 at AC Milan in Serie A, piling pressure on Rossoneri coach coach Filippo Inzaghi.
Milan has won just two of its last 11 matches, and fans are starting to wonder how long owner Silvio Berlusconi will put up with Inzaghi, who is in his first year as a top-division manager.
Frenchmen Jeremy Menez and Philippe Mexes scored for Milan after Luca Toni had put Verona ahead with a penalty 17 minutes in and the Rossoneri were cruising toward a much-needed win until Lopez darted into the area past two defenders and found the target to silence the San Siro.
Milan remained in the middle of the table in 10th
Also, Samuel Eto’o scored his first goal since returning to Italy as Sampdoria beat Cagliari 2-0 to stay in the hunt for a spot in Europe.