Thu, Mar 01, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Real Madrid stumble to defeat at Espanyol

AP, MADRID

Real Madrid could not overcome the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and other regular starters on Tuesday, losing 1-0 to RCD Espanyol in La Liga to see their five-game winning streak come to an end.

Gerard Moreno scored three minutes into injury-time to give Espanyol the victory against the defending champions.

The result left Madrid in danger of losing third place to Valencia, who were two points behind going into their match at Athletic Bilbao yesterday.

Madrid stayed seven points behind second-placed Atletico and 14 points behind leaders Barcelona. Atletico were yesterday to host CD Leganes and Barcelona visit Las Palmas today.

“We didn’t deserve this goal in the last minute,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We played well, created chances, but things didn’t go our way in the end.”

Ronaldo, who scored eight goals in his past four games, was rested by Zidane to make sure he is fully fit for their UEFA Champions League last-16 second leg against Paris Saint-Germain next week. The European champions won the first match 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid host Getafe in La Liga on Saturday in their final game before the match in Paris.

Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Luka Modric also did not play as they try to recover from injuries for next week’s game against PSG.

Casemiro was left out because of a stomach problem, while Dani Carvajal and Karim Benzema started on the bench.

Gareth Bale played up front along with Lucas Vazquez, Marco Asensio and Isco. The midfield had Marcos Llorente and Mateo Kovacic, while the fullbacks were Nacho Fernandez and Achraf Hakimi.

Benzema replaced Isco in the 69th minute.

Madrid had outscored opponents 20-7 in their five-game winning streak.

Espanyol, 13th in the league standings, had not won in seven matches, since they ended Barcelona’s 29-match unbeaten streak in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals in January.

Their previous league win came eight rounds ago, at Levante UD. They had already beaten Atletico 1-0 at home and drawn Barcelona 1-1 in the league.

Espanyol had never beaten Madrid at RCDE Stadium, where they began playing in 2009.

Moreno, who had a goal disallowed for offside in the first half, scored the winner with a shot from near the penalty spot after a well-placed cross by Sergio Garcia following a late breakaway.

“It was more or less the same against Atletico and Barcelona, we found a way to win in the end,” Moreno said. “This result restores our confidence after a series of poor results.”

Girona remained in the fight for a UEFA Europa League spot by defeating RC Celta de Vigo 1-0 at home, continuing their impressive debut season in the first division.

Portu scored a 14th-minute winner to put Girona in seventh place, two points behind sixth-place Sevilla.

The Catalan club were coming off a 6-1 loss against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

Celta, who have only one win in their past five games, dropped to ninth place.

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