Football: Real Madrid's shock Espanyol defeat is worst game of the season, says Ancelotti

Espanyol's Raul De Tomas (centre), Real Madrid's Rodrygo (left) and Lucas Vazquez during the La Liga match at RCD Stadium in Barcelona, on Oct 3, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

(REUTERS) - Real Madrid's 2-1 La Liga defeat at Espanyol on Sunday (Oct 3) was the Spanish league leaders' worst game this season, coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

Real's stuttering form continued as they suffered a second consecutive loss in all competitions following last Wednesday's Champions League stunning defeat by Moldovan minnows Sheriff.

Ancelotti's side are now without a win in three games in all competitions. But they remain top of the La Liga table on 17 points, ahead of city rivals Atletico Madrid, who beat Barcelona 2-0 on Saturday, on goal difference.

"We played badly today. We started the game with a plan for both defence and attack which was very well set out but we weren't able to keep calm and stick to it for long enough," said Ancelotti, who returned to Real for a second spell this season.

"I don't think our positioning on the pitch was good, either with and without the ball, and I have to be honest, I do think it's the worst game since I came back to the club as coach.

"It's very good to play right after losing a game but now it's tough because we have to reflect on this over the international break. I don't think it will affect our attitude. We will push forward."

Real next face Athletic Bilbao at home on Oct 17.

A goal in either half from Raul de Tomas and Aleix Vidal was enough for Espanyol to secure the three points for the Catalans to move up to 13th with nine points.

"We weren't comfy. We conceded early and that makes the game tougher for you," Real defender Nacho said. "They got in behind us a lot, and we need to work on our defensive play and that will come with games.

"We've got a number of players missing but we still have a good squad and we should be doing better than in our last three games. We need to improve at the back and respond."

Former Real youth team player de Tomas opened the scoring on 17 minutes after Ardi Embarba got in behind David Alaba down the visitors' left and squared across goal.

Eder Militao headed wide on the stroke of half-time as Real sought a way back into the game. But they found themselves two down, when Vidal danced his way through the middle of the park on the hour.

Sergi Darder missed a glorious chance to make it three before Karim Benzema's curled effort halved the deficit 19 minutes from time.

Real, though, were unable to find an equaliser, with Eden Hazard's late effort ruled out for offside.

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