Jose Mourinho's men fail to capitalise on a host of chances as they draw against bottom-of-the table Almeria....
A resolute performance from Almeria saw them share the points with a Real Madrid side that were unable to find the winning goal after Esteban Granero’s equaliser. Los Blancos had missed a host of chances throughout the game and the result may prove costly in their pursuit to lift the La Liga title.
The home-side stunned travelling supporters as they ventured into Real Madrid’s half. A driven run from Pablo Piatti into the penalty area had many fans roaring for a penalty but the ball fell to Jose Ulloa who kept his calm to sweep the ball beyond Casillas into the bottom corner to give Almeria the lead.
Up until that moment Real Madrid had been the dominant side, and they continued to be so after the goal. With the game edging towards full-time Granero stepped up to hammer in Benzema’s lay off with precision into the top corner to equalise for the travelling contingent.
Deep into injury time Real Madrid had a series of free-kicks just outside the Almeria penalty area, one of which Cristiano Ronaldo struck thunderously against the cross bar leaving the Portuguese man mesmerised as to how his side had not won the game.
The game ended on an unsavoury note as players from both sides came together in a ruckus started by Casillas and Fabian Vargas. Their fisticuffs spread to all the players as the referee blew the full-time whistle to bring an end to an intriguing game.
Ronaldo had looked to respond immediately after Piatti had given Almeria the lead by firing low at Diego Alves’ near post but the Brazilian made himself big and stuck out a foot to divert the effort away from goal.
The first half saw los Blancos waste numerous chances the best of which fell to Angel di Maria. Cristiano Ronaldo’s original effort had been saved by Alves leaving the Argentine to slot home from 12 yards but he scuffed his shot horribly and it looped high into the air.
From the re-start Real Madrid looked intent on breaking the dead-lock but Arbeloa’s testing cross was cleared by a diving Diego Alves with Ronaldo lurking at the back post to turn the ball goal wards.Before Real Madrid finally broke through the Almeria defence the home-side very nearly found themselves two goals up. Substitute Vargas controlled a cross field ball well and turned Ricardo Carvalho but the ball was caught under his feet before he could fire at Casillas.
Los Blancos got their break through on 78 minutes when Karim Benzema held the ball up brilliantly before laying the ball inch perfect for Granero who crashed in the equaliser.
Both sides then went in search of the winner with Almeria constantly threatening on the counter attack. But it was Madrid who created the better chances to win the game, most noticeably Cristiano Ronaldo's freekick which shook the frame of the goal.
The result at the Estadio del Mediterraneo leaves Real Madrid behind Barcelona, who play later this evening with the chance of going four points clear. Jose Mourinho will hope that the result does not dent his side’s title ambitions but will have to put the league to one side as he hopes to secure victory over Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final. Los Blancos take a 3-1 lead into the game that is to be played at the Bernabeu on Thursday January 20.
Despite this well-earned result Almeria still find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table and will need to continue to show this spirit if they want to stay in La Liga this year. Jose Oltra will know that this will be a tremendous confidence boost for his side before next Wednesday’s game against Deportivo la Coruna. Almeria have fought valiantly in the Copa del Rey and take a slender 1-0 lead into the second leg of the quarter-final tie at the Riazor.