Rafael Benitez lamented his side’s inability to react after going behind for the first time this season as he suffered his first defeat as Madrid boss 3-2 at Sevilla on Sunday.
Defeat leaves Madrid trailing Barcelona by three points at the top of the table with the two set to face each other next time out at the Santiago Bernabeu on November 21.
Real had got off to a flying start in Seville as Sergio Ramos’s spectacular overhead kick fired the visitors into a deserved lead.
However, after Ramos had gone off with the recurrence of a shoulder problem, Madrid fell apart as Ciro Immobile levelled before the break.
Ever Banega and Fernando Llorente set the seal on a much needed win for Sevilla after their 3-1 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City in midweek before James Rodriguez pulled a goal back in stoppage time.
“I think we played very well for 30 minutes. We had a lot of control in every part of the game,” said Benitez.
“Then we allowed them to score from a set-piece and that conditioned the game.
“In the second-half we started well again, but from the second goal we started to commit errors and they took advantage of that to score the third goal.
“We scored again at the last minute but it wasn’t enough.”
When Banega finished off a brilliant team move also involving Immobile and Yevhen Konoplyanka on the hour mark it was the first time Madrid had even been behind in 15 games this season.
And Benitez criticised his side’s failure to respond when finally put in an adverse situation.
“We lacked know-how in managing the situation. It seemed a matter of time until the second goal in the first half hour.
“It wasn’t to be, they regained their confidence with the equaliser and then our errors allowed them to grew further into the game.
“We found it difficult to react. In the first-half we should have killed the game off and we didn’t.”
Ramos had to watch on in anguish as his side threw away the lead and could now be a doubt for the Barca clash after a disrupted two months since he first suffered a dislocated shoulder against Shakhtar Donetsk.
The defender admitted he is almost certain to miss Spain’s friendly matches against England and Belgium in the next week.
“First I have to recover. I hope to have a scan on Tuesday, but it will be difficult to go with the national team if I couldn’t continue today,” he told Canal Plus.
“The priority is to recover because it is another relapse. I have played four or five games with injections and this is the type of injury that if you are not careful can cause a lot more problems.”
The former Sevilla man insisted the Andalusians deserved credit for their second-half display, but recognised Madrid can’t afford many more slip-ups if they are to land just their second league title in eight years.
“It’s clear we didn’t play well in the second-half. This is one of the hardest places to come due to their fans and the quality of Sevilla. You also have to highlight how well Sevilla played as well as a bad match on our part.
“In the second-half they had control of possession and managed to take their chances.
“It is in games like this that you lose the league and we’ve lost three very important points. Now we have to turn the corner, the Clasico always carries a lot of expectations but above all it is an important game for us to win.”