Real Madrid’s hopes of retaining their La Liga were dealt a massive blow as they were held to a goalless draw away from home by Real Betis on Sunday evening.

The result means that Carlo Ancelotti’s side now sit 9 points behind league leaders Barcelona who beat Valencia 1-0 earlier in the day.

VAR denies REAL Early on

After three consecutive wins in the league, the hosts came into this game with confidence. They frustrated their visitors throughout the ninety minutes. Real thought they had the lead in the 12th minute when Karim Benzema scored from a free kick, but VAR intervened to chalk off the goal. Replays suggested that the ball had brushed off Antonio Rudiger’s arm on its way in.

Federico Valverde went close to breaking the deadlock in the 32nd minute with an ambitious 25-yard half-volley, but the Uruguayan’s strike sailed just over the crossbar. Neither of the two goalkeepers was tested in the remainder of the half as both sides went into the tunnel, still searching for the get-away goal.

Soon after the restart, Claudio Bravo kept out Benzema after some wonderful wing play from Vinicius Jr in the left wing.

The hosts should have taken the lead in the 53rd minute but Borja Iglesias’s effort from point-blank range was saved superbly by Thibaut Courtois to keep the score tied in front of the vociferous home faithful.

The reigning Champions should have taken the lead in the 61st minute when Valverde laid it on a plate for Rodrygo, but the Brazilian sent his effort over the bar.

Real didn’t create any clear-cut openings from then on as Manuel Pellegrini’s men held on for an impressive point.

Betis continue impressive campaign

The Green and Whites’ impressive domestic campaign continued as they sit fifth in the standings with 41 points from 24 games, three adrift of Real Sociedad for a Champions League berth.

Pellegrini’s men will now shift focus to their Europa League assignment in the last 16 of the competition, where they have been pitted against Manchester United, the first leg of which is set to take place coming Thursday.

Real, meanwhile, will look to regroup next week against Espanyol, knowing any further slip-up will kill their chances of retaining the La Liga title. Since beating Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield last month in the Champions League, the Los Merengues haven’t won any of their last three games in all competitions.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Zuma Wire