With Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior finally contained, Real Madrid saw their five-game winning streak end in a 0-0 draw against Villarreal at home in the Spanish league on Saturday.
It was the first time this season that Madrid have been held scoreless after outscoring opponents 22-8 in their opening seven matches in all competitions. His 21 goals in six league games were his best mark since 1987-88.
Benzema and Vinicius Junior had carried Madrid’s attack so far, with at least one scoring in five of the opening seven matches. Benzema leads the league scorers chart with eight goals, followed by Vinicius Junior with five.
The draw gave Madrid a three-point lead over Sevilla, who beat Espanyol 2-0 at home on Saturday. Sevilla have a game in hand. Defending champions Atletico Madrid fell to third place after a stunning 1-0 loss to then-last Alaves.
Villarreal, who ended their winless streak in the previous round after opening with seven straight draws in all competitions, remained in 10th place.
The visitors had some of the best scoring chances at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois expected to make some good saves.
Madrid, unbeaten in 25 consecutive league games, struggled to find the target throughout the game.
“It’s a little frustrating to draw at home, but we played against a good team, a Champions League team,” said Courtois. “We didn’t have a lot of clear chances. They had better ones. It was important to keep your clean sheet.
Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann have been selected again as Atletico missed a chance to regain the lead during their visit to Alaves.
Victor Laguardia scored with a header from a corner four minutes into the game to give Alaves their first points of the season and end Atletico’s unbeaten streak. The defending champions had not lost in seven matches in all competitions this season.
Diego Simeone’s side have won just one of their last four matches in all competitions, with the only goals in that series coming from Suarez at the end of the 2-1 win at Getafe on Tuesday.
Suarez couldn’t make it through on Saturday and Griezmann continued to disappoint on his return to Atletico after a two-year stint with Barcelona. The French striker has yet to score in eight games for Atletico this season.
Simeone could not count on Portuguese striker Joao Felix due to a two-game suspension for disrespecting a referee.
“Alaves played very well defensively and earned the win,” said Simeone. “It’s normal to go through tough times during the season and it’s probably happening to us right now. “
The home win kept Alaves from matching their worst league debut after six straight losses in 2017-18. The victory also put the bottom team back in the league.
Alaves hadn’t beaten Atletico in the league since 2003, with eight losses and four draws during that span.
The only team left without a point to start the season is Getafe, who visit Real Betis on Sunday.
SEVILLE IS EVOLVING
Sevilla moved up to second as they beat Espanyol at home with goals from Youssef En-Nesyri in the first half and Rafa Mir towards the end of the game.
Julien Lopetegui’s side played a man in the 65th after losing midfielder Thomas Delaney with two yellow cards after complaining to the referee.
Valencia rallied late with 10 men to draw a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao at home, ending a two-game losing streak.
Bilbao took the lead with a goal from Inigo Martinez in the 69th, but Marcos Andre equalized five minutes after the start of stoppage time at Mestalla Stadium.
The hosts lost Maxi Gomez with a red card in the 82nd.
The win propelled Valencia to fifth place, while Bilbao _ after a three-game winless streak _ remained seventh.