Football: Real Madrid end awful campaign with 12th league loss, benched Bale may have played last game

Real Madrid players acknowledge fans at the end of the match between against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on May 19, 2019.
Real Madrid players acknowledge fans at the end of the match between against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on May 19, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (REUTERS) - Real Madrid's harrowing season came to a fittingly miserable end on Sunday (May 19) as they slumped to a staggering 12th La Liga defeat, losing 2-0 at home to Real Betis as many fans left the stadium early and those who stayed booed the players off the pitch.

With Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Thibaut Courtois all sitting on the bench, Betis forward Loren Moron put the visitors in front in the 61st minute, completing a sweeping counter-attack by slamming the ball into the roof of the net from close range.

Former Madrid forward Jese Rodriguez sealed victory for Betis - who finished the season 10th in the standings but have earned away victories at the Nou Camp and the Santiago Bernabeu - by tapping into the net unmarked in the 75th.

Real ended the campaign third in the standings on 68 points, their lowest total since the 2001-02 season, while they lost 12 league games for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign.

They finished eight points behind runners-up Atletico Madrid and are 18 behind champions Barcelona, who visit Eibar later on Sunday.

"We started the season badly and we've finished it badly," said Madrid defender Marcelo.

"We didn't want the season to be like this at any stage, we wanted to be in finals competing for trophies, it's been a tough season, one of the hardest on a personal level, we tried to sort things out but now we're just looking to next season."

Real's only good opening in another dismal display fell to top scorer Karim Benzema, who struck the post from inside the box in the first half.

Betis dominated the play and would have scored earlier had it not been for some impressive saves from Keylor Navas, who was given a rousing reception from supporters in what was believed to be his last game for the club.

Bale left on bench

Spanish media reports also say that Bale will not be at the club next season, but the Wales forward, who was left out of the squad for last week's defeat at Real Sociedad, was given no opportunity for a final run-out at the Bernabeu.

Real's record signing and a scorer in two Champions League final triumphs, Bale was seen grimacing as he sat on the bench when his side were 2-0 down and when the full-time whistle came he walked straight down the tunnel without acknowledging fans.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane would not be drawn on whether Navas or Bale would leave the club, but said players' futures could not dictate whether or not he picked them.

"I don't know if it's the last game for them or not, I don't know what's going to happen. Keylor played well but we'll see what happens next season," he said.

Asked about whether Bale deserved a chance to play one last game, he said: "I'm sorry he didn't get to play, but no one knows what will happen.

"If I think a player doesn't fit in the team I have to do what I think works best. No one can change what Bale has done for the team, but as a coach I have to live in the present."