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Draw whittles down Real's lead

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HONOURS SHARED:Villarreal's Marcos Senna slots in his team's equaliser past Real Madrid goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas.— PHOTO: AFP
HONOURS SHARED:Villarreal's Marcos Senna slots in his team's equaliser past Real Madrid goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas.— PHOTO: AFP

Nine-man Real Madrid saw its lead in La Liga cut to six points on Wednesday after it was held to a 1-1 draw by Villarreal. Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 33rd goal of the season in the 62nd minute, but Marcos Senna equalised with eight minutes remaining for struggling Villarreal.

Things got worse for Real as Sergio Ramos, making his 300th appearance, and Mesut Ozil were both red-carded in the closing moments while coach Jose Mourinho and assistant Rui Faria were sent to the stands.

Barcelona had defeated Granada 5-3 on Tuesday to keep its title hopes alive with superstar Lionel Messi taking his career club goals tally to a record 234.

Afterwards neither Mourinho nor any of his backroom staff came out to face the press while it was reported that Ronaldo left the pitch repeatedly shouting 'we've been robbed'.

“Referees hurt us too much sometimes, but we must hold our heads high and move on. Every team would like to have a six point lead,” said Real's Brazilian star Marcelo.

“You saw what happened and how many of us were sent off. We must do our job. We took one point and must continue working hard.

“There's no pressure and any team would like to be where we are now. We're fine. We didn't win but we're in good spirits.”

Lots of chances

Villarreal had a number of chances to take the lead, the most notable when Iker Casillas saved well on 20 minutes after a Sergio Ramos slip allowed Nilmar to bear down on goal.

Mourinho made a tactical change in midfield on 28 minutes replacing Lass Diarra, who had picked up a yellow card, with Jose Callejon.

The home team then had a strong claim for a penalty turned down on 37 minutes when Alvaro Arbolea appeared to pull the shirt of Nilmar at a corner.

The game was becoming increasingly scrappy when on 61 minutes Ronaldo and Ozil exchanged passes, the latter with a delightful back-flick, for the Portuguese to round Diego Lopez in the Villarreal goal and put Madrid ahead.

Madrid was now in control and four minutes later Javier Camunas had to make a goal-line clearence after Sami Khedira hooked the ball towards the net.

Villarreal did not look like equalising until Hamit Altintop fouled Joan Oriol on the edge of the area and Senna stepped up to convert the free-kick from 20 yards with eight minutes left.

In the aftermath of that decision, Mourinho was sent to the stands and then a minute later Sergio Ramos was dismissed for a second yellow card. It was his 14th red card as a Real Madrid player. Ozil was then given his marching orders with a direct red for protesting.

Earlier, third-placed Valencia slumped to a 2-1 home defeat to Zaragoza with the rock-bottom club taking the three points despite finishing, like Real Madrid, with only nine players.

Pablo Hernandez put Valencia ahead, but two goals from Antonio Galdeano 'Apono' gave Zaragoza some hope of escaping relegation.

The results: Atletico Madrid 2 (Falcao 49, 71) bt Athletic Bilbao 1 (Javi Martinez 90+2), Sporting Gijon 2 (Colunga 38, Botia 66) lost to Real Mallorca 3 (Nunes 30, Orfila 47-og, Alvaro 77), Real Sociedad 1 (Vela 5) lost to Levante 3 (Barkero 11, Kone 44, Torres 90+3), Valencia 1 (Pablo Hernandez 9) lost to Real Zaragoza 2 (Apono 30-pen, 76), Villarreal 1 (Senna 83) drew with Real Madrid 1 (Cristiano Ronaldo 62). — AFP

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