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Real Madrid kick off new year with 2-2 by Villarreal

(Xinhua)    11:14, January 04, 2019

MADRID, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid kicked off the year 2019 with a 2-2 draw away to Villarreal, who claimed a late winner thanks to midfielder Santi Cazorla.

The result leaves Real Madrid 7 points behind FC Barcelona in the race for the Liga Santander title, but is enough to lift Villarreal out of the bottom three ahead of Athletic Club Bilbao on goal difference.

Villarreal took the lead after just four minutes when Cazorla scored his first goal of the night as the former Spain international was given far too much space on the right of the Madrid penalty area and was able to curl a shot past Thibaut Courtois.

Villarreal's advantage didn't last long however, as three minutes later Karim Benzema headed home a cross from the right and with the Villarreal defense leaking space, Rafael Varane headed Madrid in front in the 20th minute of the game.

Real Madrid's plans were rocked before halftime when Gareth Bale suffered a muscle injury and had to be replaced by Lucas Vazquez.

Vazquez missed a chance to seal the win for the visitors when he saw his effort saved when one on one with Villarreal keeper Sergio Asenjo and soon afterwards Villarreal coach Luis Garcia three Karl Ekambi and Carlos Bacca into the game as he went all out for the win.

Villarreal got their reward with Cazorla's second goal of the game nine minutes from time and although Madrid coach Santiago Solari three Vinicius Jr in a late bid for the win, it was too little too late and two more points went begging for his side.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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