Beckham's skill revives Real's hopes in title race

Real Madrid 2 - Villarreal 1

Just when they looked to have waved goodbye to their already slim hopes of winning La Liga, Real Madrid staged an unlikely second-half revival that allowed them to live to fight for another day in their battle to wrest the Spanish championship from the grasp of their rivals, Barcelona.

Just when they looked to have waved goodbye to their already slim hopes of winning La Liga, Real Madrid staged an unlikely second-half revival that allowed them to live to fight for another day in their battle to wrest the Spanish championship from the grasp of their rivals, Barcelona.

With the former Boca Juniors and Barcelona play-maker Juan Roman Riquelme running the show in midfield, Real were given the run around by Villarreal for most of yesterday's match. But for all their domination, the visitors rarely forced the Real keeper Iker Casillas into action as they over-elaborated when they got close to the area.

The one Real player who shone throughout the game was David Beckham, the England captain producing a performance that brought back memories of his heyday at Old Trafford.

It was Beckham who created Real's first scoring opportunity when he whipped in a fine cross from the right, but the Villarreal defender Quique Alvarez managed to cut the ball out before the waiting Michael Owen could pounce.

Villarreal eventually got a goal to reflect their domination, Riquelme scoring a penalty after the Real centre-back Francisco Pavon took both ball and man when he slid in to dispossess Diego Forlan as the former Manchester United striker raced into the area.

The seemingly tireless Beckham, though, was the heart of all Real's attacks and his efforts should have been better rewarded. Early in the second half, he picked out Owen with a great ball, but the England striker, who had a quiet game, was closed down after skipping past two defenders towards the byline.

Villarreal should have put the match beyond doubt just before the hour when Riquelme slipped the ball to Forlan as the two bore down on Casillas, but his pass was a little too strong and the Uruguayan, who has scored 18 goals this season, brought back memories of Old Trafford days when he snapped the ball into the side-netting.

The scare had the effect of stinging Real into a response that turned the game on its head. Beckham ran the ball out of defence and found Zinedine Zidane on the edge of the area. The Frenchman checked his way towards the byline before floating the ball across to the far post where the waiting Ronaldo had little more to do than nod the ball over the line.

Real's chances of a comeback appeared to have been dealt a fatal blow when they were reduced to 10 men three minutes later after Walter Samuel was sent off for a second booking, but the setback only sparked them into action once again.

Darting into the left-hand-side of the area, Ronaldo went to ground in a vain appeal for a penalty, but then jumped to his feet as the Villarreal defence stood off and slipped the ball back to the advancing Salgado who fired a first-time shot high into the far corner to snatch the winner.

Exhausted by their efforts, Real spent much of the last 15 minutes running the ball into the corners to run the clock down, and the shine was taken off their dogged victory when Zidane and Villarreal defender Quique Alvarez were sent off after becoming involved in an injury-time scuffle.

Goals: Riquelme (39 pen) 0-1; Ronaldo (69) 1-1; Salgado (74) 2-1.

Real Madrid (4-4-2): Casillas; Salgado, Pavon, Samuel, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Borja (Guti, 68), Zidane, Raul; Owen (Figo, 77), Ronaldo (Helguera, 77). Substitutes not used: Cesar (gk), Bravo, Celades, Solari.

Villarreal (4-4-2): Reina; Sa, Rodriguez, Alvarez, Arruabarrena (Guayre, 81); Riquelme, Senna, Josico (Font, 86), Sorin; Jose Mari, Forlan (Figueroa, 72). Substitutes not used: Lopez Vallejo (gk), Venta, Cazorla, Calleja

Referee: G Vazquez.

Sent off: Real Madrid Samuel; Zidane . Villarreal: Alvarez.

Man of the match: Beckham.

Attendance: 77,000.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
News
A speech made by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister urging women not to laugh in public in order to preserve morality has sparked a backlash on social media from women posting defiant selfies of themselves laughing at his remarks.
GALLERYWhy are Turkish women having a chuckle at the government's expense?
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star