La Liga 2021-22: Virus-hit Real Madrid held 0-0 by Cadizmo

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Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard (in white) fights for the ball with Cadiz goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma during a La Liga match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Sunday.

Highlight

  • The standoff against Cadiz leaves Madrid six points clear of the top
  • Elsewhere, Jorge Molina struck three times in Granada’s 4–1 win over Mallorca.
  • Second-placed Sevilla beat defending champions Atletico to take Madrid’s lead on Saturday

Playing without five key players due to the COVID outbreak in the squad, La Liga table-toppers Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw by relegation-charged Cadiz at the prestigious Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night. The goalless draw also ended the 34-time champions 10-game winning run in all competitions.

Elsewhere, Jorge Molina struck three times in Granada’s 4–1 victory over Mallorca and became the oldest player to score a hat-trick in a top five European league – at 39 years and 241 days.

The standoff against Cadiz leaves Madrid six points clear of the top. It came a day after second-placed Sevilla cut Madrid’s lead after beating defending champions Atletico Madrid 2-1.

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti was without Luca Modric, Rodrigo, Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale, Marcelo and backup goalkeeper Andrey Lunin due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Modric’s place in the starting 11 is undeniable, while Rodrigo and Asensio share time in Ancelotti’s rotation. Once the stars, Bell and Marcello, the option is rarely used.

Cádiz, struggling in the relegation zone, disappointed Madrid by aligning nine players into two tight lines in front of their field. When Madrid did manage to work their way up, goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma was there to rescue the visitors.

“We managed to make it an ugly game,” said Cadiz coach lvaro Cervera.

Madrid did not come close to Federico Valverde’s long-range strike, which was stopped by Ledesma in the middle of the first half. Ledesma also did well to block a late free-kick from Karim Benzema.

“When you play against a team that has closed shop, you need a forward who can go behind the cross. And we don’t have players like that,” Ancelotti said.

“I’m not saying I don’t want Benzema on my team, I always do, but he’s not that type of player.”

Cadiz had upset Madrid last season, beating Madrid 1-0. Substitute Alvaro Negredo came close to making another surprise when the side finally managed to launch a counterattack, only for the experienced striker to roll his strike wide.

The virus outbreak gave Eden Hazard a rare chance to play a full match for Madrid. The Belgian forward, who cost Madrid 100 million euros in 2019, hasn’t started a match since September, when he was part of a lineup embarrassed 2-1 at home by a Moldovan side sheriff in the Champions League.

The former Chelsea star, who has suffered multiple injuries since moving to Madrid, had a calm first half. He managed a shiny header which ledesma saved immediately after restart.

oldest hat trick
According to Opta, Molina is the oldest player to score a league hat-trick in the top tiers of Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France.
The striker did not make his first-class debut until the age of 29, but then played for Real Betis and Getafe before joining Granada last season.

“It only gives me even more reason to enjoy the game,” Molina said. “As long as my body holds up, I’m motivated to keep going.”

Molina credits her focus on rest, a good diet and regular 16-hour fasts as the keys to prolonging her career.

Betis dusting]

Iaki Williams made a brace and Oscar de Marcos beat the 90th-minute winner to give Athletic Bilbao a 3-2 win over Real Betis, ending an eight-round winless streak for the Basque club.

Betis finished third in the league with three straight wins. Bilbao had not scored more than two goals in a game throughout the season and was troubled by their poor performance in recent weeks. Betis got goals from Nabil Fekir and Juanmi Jiménez, whose 11 goals are second only to Benzema’s 13 in the league.

out of danger
Dario Poveda led home Damien Suarez’s cross in stoppage time to give Getafe a 1-0 win over Osasuna that pushed them out of the relegation zone. Getafe got a much-needed victory in the Copa del Rey after a 0-5 loss to third-tier club Atlético Bellieres.

(reported by AP)

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