For Real, unbeaten run ends at Sevilla

Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo shows his frustration after his side concede late at Sevilla. The Portuguese gave Madrid the lead from the spot, becoming the joint-top penalty scorer in La Liga history.
Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo shows his frustration after his side concede late at Sevilla. The Portuguese gave Madrid the lead from the spot, becoming the joint-top penalty scorer in La Liga history.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Madrid's Spanish record 40-game streak snaps in stoppage time as title race heats up

MADRID • Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane urged his side to put their disappointment of a first defeat in 41 games behind them as Sevilla produced a remarkable late turnaround to breathe new life into the Spanish title race with a 2-1 win on Sunday.

Zidane's men looked set to extend their commanding lead at the top of the table when Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium from the penalty spot midway through the second half.

However, Real captain Sergio Ramos delighted the home fans by heading into his own net on his return to his former club.

And substitute Stefan Jovetic curled home a dramatic stoppage-time winner on his La Liga debut as Sevilla closed to within a point of Real, who remain on 40 points.

Victory also took Sevilla a point above Barcelona (38) into second, but Real still have a game in hand on both rivals.

  • LONGEST UNBEATEN RUNS IN FOOTBALL

  • 62 games: Celtic (Sco) - 1915-17

    60: Union SG (Bel) - 1933-35

    55: Al Ahly (Egy) - 2004-05

    52: Asec Mimosas (Civ) - 1990

    48: Benfica (Por) - 1963-65

    45: D. Zagreb (Cro) - 2014-15

    44: Rangers (Sco) - 1992-93

    43: Juventus (Ita) - 2011-12

    42: Ajax (Ned) - 1995-96

    42: AC Milan (Ita) - 1991-92

    40: Nott'ham Forest (Eng) 1978

    40: Real Madrid (Esp) - 2016-17

    39: Barcelona (Esp) - 2015-16

"I have to be very proud of them all for what we have done until now," Zidane told BeIN Sports Spain. "We know this was going to happen some day, it is today, and now we have to continue working hard in all competitions."

While Real's Spanish record run of 40 games without defeat was snapped, Ronaldo became the joint-top penalty scorer in La Liga history on Sunday.

The Portuguese drew level with former Real great Hugo Sanchez and moved 10 penalties ahead of former Barcelona defender Ronald Koeman, who is now third on the list with 46. Barcelona's Lionel Messi is the only other active player in the top 10 with 42 strikes.

Ramos, who made his debut for Sevilla in 2004 before joining the Madrid club a year later at the age of 19, was part of an unusual Real line-up with three at the back. But Zidane's tactical change had worked well for 85 minutes.

Wing-backs Dani Carvajal and Marcelo were given extra licence to roam forward and it was Carvajal who was chopped down in the area for Ronaldo's opener.

"We did very well with the wing-backs. Dani and Marcelo offered a lot offensively," said Zidane.

"It is a shame. To play like that for 85 minutes and then to lose is hard to take, but that's football."

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli claimed his side can cash in on the momentum gained by such a late comeback to fuel their unlikely title challenge.

"It has to stimulate the team. Playing like this against a team that hadn't lost in so long," said the Argentinian.

"The conclusion to take from the game is that we won it, we are a point behind them and played with great bravery against such a big team."

Jovetic, in particular, enjoyed a whirlwind week as the forward only completed a loan move from Inter Milan until the end of the season last Tuesday. However, he netted on his debut against Real on Thursday in a 3-3 Copa del Rey draw and repeated the trick with a great hit from 25 metres out, two minutes into time added on.

"I couldn't imagine a better start," he said.

"I want to offer the team what it needs to go as far as possible in the league and Champions League."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline 'For Real, unbeaten run ends at Sevilla'. Print Edition | Subscribe