Carlos Bacca bagged a double as Sevilla dealt a blow to Real Madrid's La Liga title challenge Wednesday evening with a come-from-behind victory, 2-1, at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville.
Real Madrid led early through Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick, but Sevilla turned around the scoreline with a pair of punishing counters. The hosts equalised shortly after Real's opener and nabbed the winner, again on the break, 18 minutes from time.
The loss was Real Madrid's second in as many league matches following Sunday's 4-3 reverse at home to rivals Barcelona, and such a poor run could have lasting damage on the Blancos' title push. Carlo Ancelotti's side, which led the table as recently as last week, is now in third place, three points behind Atletico Madrid and two behind Barcelona.
As noted by Infostrada Sports, Real had not lost back-to-back league matches since May 2009.
But despite the recent slump in form, Real could take hope in the fact that Barcelona and Atletico are set to play on the last day of the league season. In addition, the Blancos play five of their final eight league matches at home, where they have won 12 of 14 matches this season.
Sevilla are fifth with 50 points, six behind Athletic Bilbao, who currently hold Spain's final UEFA Champions League spot. Unai Emery's side has won six straight league matches.
Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos did not play due to suspension after having his red-card appeal turned down, per The Guardian.
Both teams created chances in the opening minutes, but Real Madrid went ahead in the 14th minute via a helpful deflection from a Ronaldo free-kick. The Portuguese superstar was unable to clear the wall with his shot, but the ball deflected off Bacca's forearm and looped into the net past the stranded Beto.
Sevilla needed only five minutes to equalise, hitting Real Madrid with a lethal counter in the 19th minute. Jose Antonio Reyes latched on to the ball on the right and crossed into the middle for Bacca, who poked into the net to make it 1-1.
Beto made a fine save in the 39th minute to keep Sevilla level, stopping Ronaldo's thumping effort that was headed for the top corner. Real Madrid had two more chances in the 43rd minute, as Gareth Bale forced Beto to save again before Ronaldo hit the left upright with a flicked shot.
Real Madrid kept pushing for the second goal after the break. Instead, disaster struck in the 72nd minute as Sevilla struck again on the counter.
Ivan Rakitic set up the move, freeing himself on the left flank with a clever back-heel flick before laying off for Bacca inside the box. With Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez racing off his line, Bacca slid his first-time shot through Lopez's legs and into the net for a 2-1 lead.
Real Madrid came close to an instant equaliser as Ronaldo tried his luck from long range, but Beto pushed the dipping shot around the post to keep Sevilla ahead. The visitors had more chances in the closing minutes, as Marcelo shot wide in the 87th minute and Bale blasted a free-kick over the bar in stoppage time.
But the equaliser never came, and instead Real Madrid slipped to a second straight defeat after going 31 matches unbeaten in all competitions.
Reaction to follow...
|Real Madrid Player Ratings vs. Sevilla|
|Isco (for Illarramendi, 67')||N/A||6|
|Alvaro Morata (for Modric, 90')||N/A||6|
|Ratings by B/R UK|
Real Madrid resume league play on Saturday with a home match against Rayo Vallecano. The Blancos then host Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final next Wednesday.
Sevilla play at Celta Vigo in the league on Saturday.