The starting lineup of one of the most famous football clubs in the world, Real Madrid, sent experts searching through the history books as they were downed by rivals Villarreal 2-1 in a bizarre first.
It was the first time in the club’s 120-year history that no Spanish players were in the starting 11 of the La Liga match.
In the side were three Frenchmen, two Brazilians, two Germans, a Belgian, an Austrian, a Croat and a Uruguayan.
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Gerard Moreno, who missed the World Cup for Spain due to injury, led Villarreal with an assist and a goal against the Spanish and European champions.
Yeremy Pino put Villarreal deservedly ahead in the 47th minute from a pass by Moreno after Ferland Mendy lost possession with an errant pass. A handball by Villarreal’s Juan Foyth allowed Karim Benzema to momentarily level from the penalty spot in the 60th.
But another handball, this time by Madrid defender David Alaba on a pass by Foyth, sent Moreno to take the winner for Villarreal in the 63rd.
Villarreal, which held Madrid to five consecutive draws at its stadium, took the initiative and forced Madrid’s defenders into sloppy passing. Francis Coquelin hit the post in the fifth with a superb shot with the back of his heel while on the turn, slicing the ball from a tight angle past Thibaut Courtois. That pressure led to the breakthrough by Pino just after halftime.
“No doubt, today we played an extraordinary match against an extraordinary team,” Villareal coach Quiqué Setién said.
“We were better in many aspects, kept the action in their half of the field and created our scoring chances. We increased our pressure because we know that if you give them room, they can cause you problems.”
“I always believed,” Setién said. “Our start was not the best one. There was the shock in the club with a new coach who wants to change things even though the team is playing well. But I am a man of convictions and knew that this would work out.”
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti called on his defence to play better.
“We didn’t defend like we want to, we left too many spaces between our lines,” Ancelotti said. “We have to interpret the moments of the game better. Now we have to focus on the Super Cup.”
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