class performance from La Liga debutants Girona overwhelmed an out-of-sorts Real Madrid 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at Montilivi in Girona.
Isco gave Real a first-half lead, but two goals in a span of five minutes in the second-half earned the newly-promoted side the shock victory.
Girona gave an inspiring, energetic display that Real were unable to match. Even with the visitors from the capital ahead at the break, Girona looked the more dangerous side after having hit the post twice in the first 45 minutes. As for Real, it is their second defeat of the young season and leaves them eight points behind Barcelona in the table.
Manager Zinedine Zidane reverted back to his strongest possible starting XI following the mid-week Copa del Rey win at Fuenlabrada, with Achraf continuing at right-back for the injured Dani Carvajal and Kiko Casilla in goal for the banged up Keylor Navas.
Girona came out piling numbers forward as they looked to pressure Real high. The Girona pressure, along with the setting sun right in his face, made for a complicated opening phase for Casilla. The Real stopper looked hesitant when a Maffeo played in a deep cross into the area and he surely felt relieved when the ball hit the post and bounced out.
It was the let-off that Real needed, and the resulting counter-attack saw Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot initially blocked by Bono, but Isco was there to stab the rebound home to hand Real a 1-0 lead.
The Real goal did little to change Girona’s tactics. They were still keen to make it as difficult as possible for Los Blancos to play out of the back in hopes of forcing a turnover. Later on for the second time during the half, the woodwork would deny the hosts a goal, this time when Portu looped in a shot from the left that struck the far post and, incredibly, bounced back behind Casilla before eventually being cleared.
Girona were undeterred and resumed their aggressive stance to start the second half. After surviving a chance from Karim Benzema, the hosts pulled level thanks in large part to Pere Pons’ slashing run into the Real area. Nacho managed to deflect the ball off the feet of Pons, but it fell perfectly for Cristhian Stuani who swept in a shot past Casilla to make it 1-1.
Girona were brimming with belief and four minutes later Real’s surprise turned to astonishment when it became 2-1 to the home side. A stinging shot from Stuani was blocked right into the path of Maffeo, who fired toward goal, but Portu was alert and back-heeled it in right in front of Casilla for the goal. Replays showed that Portu was in an offside position, but there was no call from the linesman or referee Hernandez Hernandez and so the goal stood.
Zidane needed a response, and the French boss opted to make two offensively-minded changes, hauling off the subpar Marcelo for Lucas Vazquez and replacing Achraf with Marco Asensio, leaving Real without any full-backs.
Yet it was Girona who had the next look at goal when Stuani was played in, on the right but the Uruguayan rolled a shot just wide of the far post with Casilla rushing off his line.
Real were still on the wrong side of the scoreboard as time ticked into the final quarter-hour and looked to peg Girona back in search of an equaliser. But the intensity of the newly-promoted side never waned. The energy that manager Pablo Machin’s men showed was tremendous, as every 50/50 ball was disputed, every Real cross was blocked or deflected and every ounce of effort was used up to seal the historic win.
Real will look to bounce back on Wednesday when they travel to London to face Tottenham in the Champions League.
2.- Girona: Bono; Maffeo, Bernardo, Juanpe, Muniesa, Aday; Pere Pons, Granell, Borja Garcia (Timor, min. 75); Portu (Kayode, min. 82), Stuani (Mojica, min. 89).
1.- Real Madrid: Casilla; Achraf (Marco Asensio, min. 66), Ramos, Varane (Nacho, min. 46), Marcelo (Lucas Vazquez, min. 66); Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Isco; Cristiano, Benzema.
Goals: 0-1, min. 12: Isco; 1-1, min. 54: Stuani; 2-1, min. 58: Portu.
Referee: Hernandez Hernandez (Canarian).
Yellow cards: Modric (Min. 45) for Real Madrid, Aday (Min. 87) for Girona.
Red cards: None.