Spanish La Liga
VillarrealVillarreal2Real MadridReal Madrid2

Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid: Santi Cazorla double frustrates Solari's men

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla scored his first La Liga goals for Villarreal since he returned to the club this season

Santi Cazorla proved his class as he scored twice for Villarreal to deny Real Madrid a chance to make further inroads on La Liga leaders Barcelona.

The visitors, who made a pre-Christmas trip to the Club World Cup, looked tired and faced a rejuvenated Cazorla, who has suffered a long injury lay-off.

His curler earned an early lead before Karim Benzema's header made it 1-1.

Raphael Varane nodded in to put Real ahead, but Cazorla's late header moved Villarreal out of the relegation zone.

Santi Solari's Real remain fourth, seven points behind Barcelona, four behind second-placed Atletico Madrid and two behind third-placed Sevilla.

Real's night was not improved by Gareth Bale being substituted at half-time with what appeared to be a calf injury.

And they were made to pay by a Villarreal team, who merited at least a point for their superior attacking endeavour and had a midfielder who showed why he was so revered while at former club Arsenal.

Samuel Chukwueze
Nigerian teenager Samuel Chukwueze showed why he is coveted by some of Europe's leading clubs with a threatening display

Cazorla shows class is permanent

The hosts were inspired by Cazorla, who scored his first La Liga goals of the season after a nightmare two years following an horrific Achilles tendon injury, which needed 11 operations.

The 34-year-old returned to his former club Villarreal last summer after six years with the Gunners, but he had spent the last two on the sidelines leading to doubts about his ability to walk because of bacteria "eating" eight centimetres of his ankle tendon.

His opener showed the kind of grace which lit up north London for four years, when he latched onto the impressive Samuel Chukwueze's pass and curled a right-footed shot past the out-stretched Thibaut Courtois.

A rare header from the diminutive Spaniard, which left the home crowd in raptures following Pablo Fornals' cross, also proved Cazorla had lost none of his nous on when to arrive in the penalty area.

Karim Benzema
Real were frustrated by Villarreal, who looked superior for long periods of the game

Real struggle to lift themselves after reduced break

Real had six days' less rest than Villarreal coming into the game thanks to their Club World Cup win in Abu Dhabi, which came on 22 December.

And after a frustrating season where they replaced former manager Julen Lopetegui with Solari in October, they appeared to lack sharpness as they were tested from the start by Nigerian 19-year-old Chukwueze, who has been linked with Arsenal.

The teenager tested Courtois before setting up Cazorla's opener and was a constant thorn in Marcelo's side down the Villarreal right.

The visitors' two headed goals seemed to catch out Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo on both occasions, but he redeemed himself when saving from Lucas Vazquez in the second half when the Real forward was clean through on goal.

Bale made little impact before he was replaced by Isco, but it was Luis Garcia's home team who posed the greater threat in the second period and their equaliser was fully deserved as they boosted their hopes of staying in the top flight by moving above Athletic Bilbao on goal difference.



Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Asenjo
  • 24Layún
  • 3GonzálezBooked at 45mins
  • 6Ruiz
  • 11CostaBooked at 90mins
  • 5CáseresSubstituted forToko Ekambiat 63'minutes
  • 18Fuego MartínezSubstituted forTrigueros Muñozat 82'minutes
  • 30Chukwueze
  • 8Fornals
  • 19Cazorla
  • 7MorenoSubstituted forBaccaat 68'minutes


  • 4Funes Mori
  • 9Bacca
  • 13Fernández
  • 14Trigueros Muñoz
  • 16Pedraza
  • 17Toko Ekambi
  • 28Morlanes

Real Madrid

Formation 4-3-3

  • 25Courtois
  • 2Carvajal
  • 5Varane
  • 4RamosBooked at 89mins
  • 12Marcelo
  • 8KroosSubstituted forVinícius Júniorat 86'minutes
  • 14CasemiroBooked at 41mins
  • 10ModricSubstituted forValverdeat 64'minutes
  • 17Vázquez
  • 9Benzema
  • 11BaleSubstituted forIscoat 45'minutes


  • 1Navas
  • 6Nacho
  • 15Valverde
  • 22Isco
  • 23Reguilón
  • 24Ceballos
  • 28Vinícius Júnior
Pablo González Fuertes

Match Stats

Home TeamVillarrealAway TeamReal Madrid
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Villarreal 2, Real Madrid 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Villarreal 2, Real Madrid 2.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Vinícius Júnior (Real Madrid).

  4. Post update

    Manu Trigueros (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Casemiro (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Karl Toko Ekambi (Villarreal).

  7. Booking

    Jaume Costa (Villarreal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  8. Post update

    Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Jaume Costa (Villarreal).

  10. Booking

    Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

  12. Post update

    Carlos Bacca (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Real Madrid. Vinícius Júnior replaces Toni Kroos.

  14. Post update

    Attempt saved. Isco (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Daniel Carvajal.

  15. Post update

    Offside, Villarreal. Pablo Fornals tries a through ball, but Carlos Bacca is caught offside.

  16. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Isco (Real Madrid) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Federico Valverde.

  17. Goal!

    Goal! Villarreal 2, Real Madrid 2. Santi Cazorla (Villarreal) header from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pablo Fornals.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Villarreal. Manu Trigueros replaces Javi Fuego.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Villarreal. Conceded by Daniel Carvajal.

  20. Post update

    Offside, Real Madrid. Isco tries a through ball, but Karim Benzema is caught offside.

As It Stood

2Atl Madrid1797125121334
4Real Madrid179352621530
6Real Betis177552019126
11Celta Vigo175662826221
12Real Valladolid175661619-321
15Real Sociedad175481820-219
18Ath Bilbao1721051624-816
19Rayo Vallecano1734101732-1513
View full Spanish La Liga table

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