After suffering a surprising early-season loss on the road over the weekend to Levante, La Liga giants Real Madrid continued their trip away from home today with a third consecutive road match at Racing Santander.
Madrid dominated possession and scoring opportunities in the match against Levante, but failed to capitalize on any of their chances. Levante striker Arouna Koné had no such difficulties, scoring in the 68th minute to put the home side on top for good.
In today's match at Racing, those troubles continued throughout the first half for Madrid, as they once again dominated possession, but failed to find the back of the net. They accumulated a few good looks in the first 45 minutes, one being a Cristiano Ronaldo free kick that he aimed at the top corner of the net but watched as it flew just wide of the target.
Racing threatened with an opportunity of their own 20 minutes in, when a dangerous free kick was placed brilliantly into the box from Papa Kouly Diop, which was only thwarted by Xabi Alonso's defensive header to veer the ball off target.
The trend continued into the second 45, as the La Liga runners-up of 2011-12 created plenty of build-up, but no goals. Ronaldo had the opportunity to redeem himself late in the match, stepping up to take a free kick from a prime location just outside of the box. This time, the kick went directly into the wall and was never much trouble for Racing to clear out.
The draw marks the second time in three days that Real Madrid has failed to secure victory in league play, which comes as a surprise for one of the top two contenders in a league where they and FC Barcelona tend to finish so close to one another in point totals by the end of the season.
By the final whistle, Madrid boasted a 74 percent share of the possession in the match and a 16-5 advantage in shot production. They just couldn't finish their opportunities which could have put them a full three points back from Barcelona if Barca had won their own fixture against Valencia today.
Instead, Barcelona played to a 2-2 draw of their own, leaving Madrid still just one point back from Barcelona in the standings.
Racing Santander Lineup:
Toño, Bernardo Espinosa Zúñiga, Álvaro, Christian Fernández, Francis, Papa Kouly Diop, Alexandros Tziolis, Óscar Serrano, Jairo Samperio, Christian Stuani, Ariel Nahuelpán
Subs: Domingo for Óscar Serrano (64'), Pedro Alvarez Munitis for Christian Stuani (68'), Adrian Gonzalez for Jairo Samperio (76')
Real Madrid Lineup:
Iker Casillas, Ricardo Carvalho, Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Álvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Lassana Diarra, Cristiano Ronaldo, José Maria Callejón, Karim Benzema, Mesut Özil
Subs: Ángel Di María for José Maria Callejón (45'), Gonzalo Higuaín for Mesut Özil (68'), Kaká for Lassana Diarra (76')