Real Madrid beaten again

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Villarreal's players celebrate after scoring against Real Madrid during their Spanish league match at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Saturday. — Reuters

MADRID — Another poor result, another round of jeers for Real Madrid.

Madrid's struggles in the Spanish league continued when it lost to Villarreal 1-0 Saturday, infuriating fans at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and increasing pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane.

Pablo Fornals netted Villarreal's winner in the 87th minute, prompting loud boos by the home crowd which three days ago saw their team draw with second-division club Numancia 2-2 in the Copa del Rey.

Madrid also drew at Celta Vigo 2-2 a week ago, and lost to Barcelona 3-0 at the Bernabeu in its last match last year. It has gone four matches without a win.

Saturday's result left the defending champion 16 points behind league leader Barcelona, which can increase the gap when it plays at Real Sociedad Sunday.

Madrid, which has a game in hand, is only fourth in the standings, behind Valencia and Atletico Madrid.

Villarreal moved to fifth place.

The host had most of the chances under steady rain, but Villarreal also threatened a few times before Fornals found the net.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who was also jeered, hit the crossbar from a free kick in the first half after the ball deflected off the wall.

Ronaldo later also missed from inside the area, just moments after Villarreal's Carlos Bacca came close to scoring on a one-on-one at the other end.

Ronaldo nearly scored from close range just before halftime, but his shot was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo in a play in which the forward claimed to be pushed before he hit the ball.

Gareth Bale had a goal disallowed for offside early in the first half.

Luka Modric had one of Madrid's best chances in the second half with a shot from inside the area that missed over the crossbar.

Former Madrid forward Denis Cheryshev came close with a shot for Villarreal after halftime, and Fornals didn't miss when he had his chance near the end.

The goal came after a great save by Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas following a counterattack. Fornals picked up the loose ball just outside the area and chipped it over the goalkeeper for the stunning winner.

Kenyan forward Michael Olunga scored a hat trick to lead promoted Girona to a 6-0 trouncing of last-place Las Palmas.

Las Palmas could have left the bottom of the standings with a draw but it never challenged the Catalan host at Montilivi Stadium, seeing its winless streak reach seven matches in all competitions.

Las Palmas has only 11 points from 19 matches.

Christian Stuani opened the scoring for Girona from a penalty kick midway through the first half, and the other five came in a 22-minute span in the second period.

Girona reached ninth place in the 20-team standings.

Mains loses to Hanover

World Cup finalist Nigel de Jong made an unhappy return to the Bundesliga Saturday, conceding a first-half penalty as Mainz threw away the lead in a 3-2 defeat at Hanover.

Former Dutch international midfielder De Jong, who played in the 2010 World Cup final defeat by Spain and won the 2012 Premier League title with Manchester City, had an afternoon to forget in Hanover.

The 33-year-old defensive midfielder, who made 66 Bundesliga appearances for Hamburg between 2006 and 2009, has signed for Bundesliga struggler Mainz until the end of the season.

The defeat leaves Mainz 15th in the table, just a point above the bottom three, while Hanover climb to 10th.

There was a happier return for Germany striker Mario Gomez, back at Stuttgart after an eight-year gap, as he helped seal a 1-0 win at home to Hertha Berlin.

The result leaves Stuttgart 12th, one place below Hertha, who hit the post through Austria international Valentino Lazaro in the first half.

Elsewhere, Augsburg climbed to seventh with a 1-0 win over struggler Hamburg thanks to a winning header by South Korea international Koo Ja-cheol just before the half-time whistle.

Eintracht Frankfurt blew the chance to jump from ninth to third after French striker Sebastien Haller gave them a lead at home to Freiburg, who equalized through a header by defender Robin Koch in the second half in a 1-1 draw.

Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim also shared a point in their 1-1 draw as Czech international Theodor Gebre Selassie's second-half goal for hosts Bremen canceled out Benjamin Huebner's first-half header.

Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich went 14 points clear on Friday, when the German league resumed after the winter break, with a 3-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen. — Agencies


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