HomeLaLigaLaLiga leaders Real Madrid held at home by Girona

LaLiga leaders Real Madrid held at home by Girona

Soccer Football – LaLiga – Real Madrid v Girona – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain – October 30, 2022 Girona’s Arnau Martinez reacts after sustaining an injury REUTERS/Isabel Infantes

MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Girona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday as the reigning champions maintained their unbeaten streak in LaLiga to hold a one-point lead over Barcelona.

After a goalless first half, Real opened the scoring through Vinicius Jr in the 70th minute but their lead was cancelled out by a Cristhian Stuani penalty 10 minutes later.

Both sides had their chances in a goalless first half with Real’s Rodrygo, leading the attack in the absence of Karim Benzema, coming the closest for the hosts when his shot came off the post.

At the other end, Girona threatened on the counter-attack, with skipper Valery Fernandez firing a header just wide while Yangel Herrera saw his powerful strike cannon off the crossbar.

Real were frustrated for more than an hour but finally made the breakthrough when their patient build-up play allowed Federico Valverde to put the ball into the six-yard box where Vinicius was on hand to tap it into the net.

Marco Asensio nearly doubled the lead two minutes later on a Real counter-attack, turning on the spot in the box and firing the ball at goal, but Girona keeper Paulo Gazzaniga made a spectacular reflex save to deny the midfielder.

Girona were handed a lifeline when Asensio handled the ball in the box and the referee awarded a penalty following a VAR check, with Stuani stepping up to the spot and sending Thibaut Courtois the wrong way to level the score.

“We’ll try to correct today’s mistakes. We couldn’t get three points today but any team would want to be where we are. We deserved to win,” Real defender Dani Carvajal told Movistar.

Real’s Rodrygo thought he had won the game at the death when he fought for the ball in a goalmouth scramble with Gazzaniga, but the referee disallowed his goal as the keeper was in control of the ball when the Brazilian bundled it in.

Real’s match only got worse when midfielder Toni Kroos was sent off in added time after receiving a second yellow card — the German’s first red card of his career.

But Girona, who are 16th in the standings, held on amid Real pressure and came away with a precious point as their players sank to the ground in relief at the final whistle.

“I think this is a reward for all the effort we put in… To come here and get a result is not easy and we deserve credit for the way we played throughout the 90 minutes,” Stuani said.

“We had to close down spaces, we know if we give them space they are incredible. We waited for our chances and they came, you always have to suffer here (at the Bernabeu).”

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)