Madrid stunned by Betis at home, loses ground to Barcelona
By TALES AZZONI
Sep. 20, 2017
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid's faltering start to the Spanish league season continued on Wednesday with a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Real Betis.
A day after league leader Barcelona routed Eibar 6-1 with four goals by Lionel Messi for its fifth win in a row, Madrid conceded an injury-time goal to remain winless in its three league games so far at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Paraguayan striker Antoino Sanabria scored the winner with a header from close range to give Betis its first win against Madrid at the Bernabeu since 1998.
The result ended Madrid's streak of 73 consecutive games scoring at least one goal, keeping it from surpassing the record scoring run established by Brazilian club Santos starring Pele in 1963.
Madrid, which was coming off home draws against Valencia and Levante, is seven points behind Barcelona after five games. It trails Betis by one point.
"This gap to the lead won't change the way we do things," Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "We will keep fighting. It's a long championship."
Second-place Sevilla moved within two points of Barcelona by beating Las Palmas 1-0 for its fourth consecutive league victory.
Third-place Atletico won 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao.
Real Betis players celebrated as if they had won a title after the stunning win over Madrid at the Bernabeu.
"We knew we were coming to play in a complicated stadium, but the team put in a great effort and got rewarded with the late goal," Sanabria said.
Betis took advantage of a great performance by goalkeeper Antonio Adan and a bad night by Madrid's forwards, including Cristiano Ronaldo, who was making his league debut after serving a five-game suspension for shoving a referee in the Spanish Super Cup final last month.
"It was bad luck after all the chances that we created," Madrid midfielder Casemiro said.
Ronaldo had played only three other matches with Madrid this season, including against APOEL in the team's Champions League debut, when he scored twice.
"This is not the start we wanted after three games at home," Zidane said. "We didn't expect this."
Atletico Madrid moved closer to the lead by earning a hard-fought 2-1 away victory against Athletic Bilbao.
Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak stopped Aritz Aduriz's penalty kick before halftime and Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco scored second-half goals to leave the Madrid side within four points of leader Barcelona.
It was the second consecutive win for Atletico, which remains unbeaten after five rounds.
"To win in this stadium you need to play a great match and I think we did that," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "We controlled the game and were very effective. It's a very important triumph for us."
Correa opened the scoring from inside the area after a cross by Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion in the 55th minute, and Carrasco added to the lead with a low shot into the far corner after a well-placed pass by Antoine Griezmann in the 73rd. Griezmann had also helped set up the first goal with a pass to Koke.
"It was Griezmann's best match so far this season," Simeone said.
Raul Garcia netted an injury-time goal for Athletic, which has now lost two in a row after an unbeaten start.
Sevilla kept its momentum thanks to Jesus Navas' 83rd-minute winner at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
He scored from a difficult angle to give the hosts their fourth consecutive win to start the league.
The match marked the return of striker Victor "Vitolo" Machin, who left Sevilla in the offseason to join Atletico Madrid but is playing on a loan with Las Palmas until January. He was constantly jeered by Sevilla fans.
Deportivo La Coruna handed Alaves its fifth straight loss with a 1-0 victory at the Riazor Stadium.
Luisinho scored in first-half injury time to give the hosts their first win after three losses in the first four matches.
Malaga is the only other team to have lost all of its matches so far. It was routed 5-0 at Valencia on Tuesday.
Leganes and Girona failed to take their chances in a goalless first meeting in the top flight.
Both teams created clear scoring opportunities but Leganes, playing in the Liga for the second season, had to settle for a point with promoted Girona.
Leganes stayed in the top half of the standings, in eighth place, while Girona was 14th.
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