MADRID: Real Madrid passed up the chance to go clear at the top of La Liga after slip-ups from title rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid when they could only draw 0-0 at home to struggling Real Betis on a difficult Saturday for Spain’s top three sides.
Real were full of confidence after hammering Leganes 5-0 in mid-week for their biggest win of a stop-start season and appeared to get off to a great start when Eden Hazard struck early. But the goal was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.
Madrid’s clearest opening came in the second half when French left-back Ferland Mendy surged forward towards a goal, but despite having plenty of time to shoot he missed the target, prompting howls of frustration from the fans behind the goal.
Real are second in the standings on 22 points after 11 games, level with leaders Barcelona, who slid to a shock 3-1 loss at Levante earlier in the day.
Atletico Madrid, who have played one game more, are third on 21 points after drawing 1-1 at Sevilla, who are fourth with the same number of points. Betis are 14th with 13.
“Today was a great opportunity after the other results in the day and we didn’t take it,” said Real captain Sergio Ramos.
“We fought really hard to try and win the game but we were not clinical in front of goal and it has cost us, but our attitude and work in defense was very good.
“We should also praise Betis for their performance. We’re left with a bittersweet taste; it’s good to pick up a point but we’ve missed a great chance to make a difference at the top of the table.”
Karim Benzema saw a shot well saved in a bright opening spell while Toni Kroos came close to scoring from a free-kick. But Betis, who were victorious on their last two visits to the Santiago Bernabeu, was not shy down the other end.
French midfielder Nabil Fekir flashed a shot just wide in the first half and Loren Moron tried in vain to lob Thibaut Courtois, who had to make a smart save to deny Fekir late in the game.
Madrid had a penalty appeal for handball turned down in the closing stages while Vinicius Jr. and Dani Carvajal were both thwarted in stoppage time by Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles.