Real Madrid vs. Espanyol: Final score 2-2 as Los Blancos stumble once more

Denis Doyle

The title race in La Liga is over, at least as far as the defending champions are concerned. It's mid-December, and after a 2-2 home draw against Espanyol, Real Madrid have now dropped fifteen points so far this year. Barcelona have dropped four.

In what is now symptomatic of Los Blancos' season, the hosts were dominant but failed to kill off the match, which combined with lackadaisical defending allowed the visitors to find themselves in a position to get a result. How many times have we seen Real Madrid laying siege to the opponents' goal only to slip up and allow a silly goal on the counterattack?

That's exactly what happened here. The hosts were by far the better side dominant in all phases of the game, and Fransisco Casilla's left-hand post hadn't even stopped ringing from Luka Modric's 20-yard-effort when Espanyol took a surprise lead, with Joan Verdu threading in a through ball between Madrid's centre backs for Sergio Garcia to rip pass Iker Casillas.

1-0 to Espanyol was never going to last, and Cristiano Ronaldo restored parity with a stabbed volley off Sami Khedira's cross in the last action of the first half. And it looked as though the tide had turned in favour of Real Madrid when Fabio Coentrao opened the second half with a superb run and neat finish to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.

But they failed to add to that, and as the full time whistle loomed with the visitors still in touching distance Madrid's defending got increasingly nervy. In the 88th minute a scramble in Casillas' box was knocked behind for a corner. Another scramble followed, and this time the ball fell to Juan Albin, who poked home from six yards.

There was barely any time for Real Madrid to mount a response, and the closest they came to a winner was badly wasted when Morata, on for Jose Callejon in the 73rd minute, badly miscontrolled a Mesut Ozil pass with Casilla's goal at his mercy. That would prove to be the last significant action of the match -- another deeply disappointing one for Los Blancos.

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