Football: Madrid beat Villarreal in front of sparse Bernabeu crowd

Real Madrid's Marcelo Vieira (left) in action during the match between Real Madrid and Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, on May 5, 2019.
Real Madrid's Marcelo Vieira (left) in action during the match between Real Madrid and Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, on May 5, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID (REUTERS) - Real Madrid earned a fifth consecutive home win by beating Villarreal 3-2 in an open and entertaining game on Sunday (May 5) in front of their lowest crowd for a league fixture this season.

Madrid got off to an ideal start when Mariano Diaz netted in the second minute after teenager Brahim Diaz had chased down Santi Cazorla but Villarreal hit back in the 11th when Gerard Moreno slammed the ball inside the near post from outside the area after Real midfielder Casemiro was dispossessed.

Madrid, got themselves back in front shortly before halftime when defender Jesus Vallejo stuck the ball into an empty net after a deflected shot from Marcelo, while Mariano struck again early in the second half to stretch his side's advantage.

Villarreal continued to threaten and after they missed several chances Jaume Costa pulled a goal back in stoppage time, while defender Xavier Quintilla had an opportunity to level in the final seconds of the game but missed the target.

As a disappointing season for Madrid winds to a close, the encounter at the Bernabeu was played in front of only 46,294 fans, in a stadium that holds over 80,000.

Madrid are third in the standings on 68 points after 36 games and still have an outside chance of catching second-placed Atletico Madrid who have 74 after losing at Espanyol on Saturday.

Champions Barcelona have 83 points after losing 2-0 at Celta Vigo.