Real Madrid’s quest for history was swept aside by an excellent Betis side that emerged with a late 1-0 victory on Wednesday night at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.
Antonio Sanabria fired in a header in second half stoppage time to give the Verdiblancos the unlikely three points.
The clean sheet victory for the visitors also ends Real’s 73-match scoring streak and leaves Los Blancos tied with Pele’s legendary Santos side for the most matches in a row with a goal scored. Real are now seven points behind Barcelona in the league table.
It was a difficult night all-around for Zinedine Zidane’s team. Cristiano Ronaldo, desperate to score, tried to do too much in his first league match of the season. Dani Carvajal endured one of his poorest performances in memory; Marcelo went missing during large chunks of the first half, while playmaker Isco was rendered ineffective.
Credit is also due to Betis. Quique Setien’s men were excellent in defence and former Real man Antonio Adan was a man mountain in goal, making a number of top-notch saves.
Wednesday’s clash marked the return of Ronaldo from his five-match suspension in LaLiga, as he joined Gareth Bale up top. Isco was slotted into the midfield to play behind the attacking duo, while the usual midfield trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric was back in the fold. Outside of Marcelo’s return from suspension, the defence was unchanged from the weekend win at Real Sociedad.
The Real defence found itself under pressure early on when it looked like Sanabria was about to score, only for Dani Carvajal to make a goal-line clearance. The Betis defence then turned the same trick minutes later when Javi Garcia cleared a Ronaldo back-heel that looked goalbound.
Real dominated possession but it was Betis who almost snuck in a goal toward the end of the half when Carvajal gifted a throw-in to Fabian Ruiz in the Real half, only for goalkeeper Keylor Navas to come to the rescue with the save. Betis stopper Antonio Adan also produced the goods at the other end, parrying to safety an Isco shot inside the box.
Real upped the intensity in the second half but found stiff resistance from the Betis defence. Passes were deflected, shots and crosses were blocked and space was at a minimum. The Andalusians had little of the ball but still managed chances, including a golden opportunity for Francis Guerrero that was wasted with a shot that missed the target.
By the hour mark, a scoreless draw — and the end of Real’s scoring streak — was becoming a real possibility. Betis were playing a 5-4-1 with the middle four sitting very deep, inviting Real to shoot from distance.
Zidane had enough and turned to his bench, turning to the in-form Marco Asensio, who came on Isco. But more bad news was headed Zidane’s way, as Marcelo fell to the ground with an injury and was replaced by Lucas Vazquez. The French boss also made his third switch at the same time, with Borja Mayoral on for Modric.
Real were closing in on a score, and Bale nearly did so in style with a backheel off a cross from the right, but Adan did just enough to tip it off the post and out. Betis fancied a late winner on the counter and looked to have found it through Sanabria, but the Paraguayan was correctly adjudged offside.
For most teams the final minutes at the Bernabeu while holding onto a result are like an eternity, but that wasn’t the case for Betis. The Andalusians held their nerve, evidenced by Adan’s diving save of a Carvajal header, and then the amazing happened.
Betis, confidently circulating the ball around in the Real half, carved out a superb goal in which Sanabria finished off the build-up with a header past Navas, sending the Bernabeu home in stunned disbelief.
Real return to league action on Saturday at Alaves.
0.- Real Madrid: Keylor; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo (Lucas Vazquez, min. 71); Casemiro, Kroos, Modric (Borja Mayoral, min. 72), Isco (Asensio, min. 67); Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo.
1.- Betis: Adan; Barragan, Mandi, Feddal, Durmisi; Javi Garcia, Camarasa (Guardado, min. 44), Fabian (Joaquin, min. 79), Francis (Boudebouz, min. 61), Tello, Sanabria.
Goals: 0-1, min. 94: Sanabria
Referee: Mateu Lahoz (Valencian). Yellow Cards: Tello (Min. 36) for Betis, Mandi (Min. 38) for Betis; Feddal (Min. 58) for Betis
Red cards: None
Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu