La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid suffer humbling losses in midweek fixtures

The two clubs registered defeats on the same day for the first time since January 2015 

La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid suffer humbling losses in midweek fixtures
Pic courtesy: Reuters

La Liga champions Barcelona slumped to a shocking 2-1 defeat at struggling Leganes with Real Madrid resoundingly beaten 3-0 by Sevilla on Wednesday as Spain`s two biggest clubs lost on the same day for the first time since January 2015.

Philippe Coutinho gave Barcelona the lead against bottom-of-the-table Leganes in the 12th minute with a classy volley. However, the Catalans` comfortable hold on the game dramatically fell apart shortly after the interval. Nabil El Zhar headed home a looping cross in the 52nd minute with 20-year-old Oscar Rodriguez scoring the second goal barely sixty seconds later to the joy of the 12,000 fans crammed into the Butarque stadium.

Barca`s unexpected loss handed Real the chance to move three points clear at the top of the table. However, the European champions failed to take advantage and were outclassed by a rampant Sevilla who inflicted their first league defeat under coach Julen Lopetegui.

Barca remained top of the table on goal difference, locked on 13 points with Real. Atletico Madrid are third on 11 with Sevilla fourth on 10.

Portuguese striker Andre Silva gave Sevilla the perfect start by scoring from close range in the 17th minute. Silva took advantage of a mix-up between Real`s out-of-form defender Marcelo and midfielder Casemiro to hand his side the advantage.  

The AC Milan loanee doubled the advantage four minutes later after poor goalkeeping from Thibaut Courtois, netting for the sixth time this season. The Portuguese moved above Lionel Messi as the top scorer in Spain, although Gareth Bale almost pulled one back for Real when his shot struck the post.

Sevilla had hammered Levante 6-2 in their last match and were relentless throughout the first half against Real. After Franco Vazquez hit the bar, striker Wissam Ben Yedder scored in the 39th minute for his sixth goal in the week, rounding off a remarkable fourth consecutive home league win over Real.

Real`s wretched night continued as Luka Modric had a goal ruled out for offside after a lengthy consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR). To make matters worse, Marcelo came off injured, endangering his chances of playing in Saturday`s city derby against Atletico. The timing of Marcelo`s injury also went against Real, who had to play the final 20 minutes with 10 men as Lopetegui had already made three substitutions.

"We came here with the aim of putting pressure on Sevilla and we couldn`t do it as we wanted to, that`s obvious, and Sevilla were the far superior side," Lopetegui told reporters.

CHANGES BACKFIRE

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, meanwhile, will face criticism for rotating his side again after resting players in Sunday`s surprise 2-2 home draw with Girona. Valverde brought in defender Thomas Vermaelen at the expense of Jordi Alba to deploy an unfamiliar back three, handing forward Munir El Haddadi his first competitive start since returning on loan from Alaves.

Vermaelen was caught out of position when El Zhar headed in the equaliser with defender Gerard Pique's error a few moments later, allowing Rodriguez to slam the ball into the roof of the net. This earned Leganes an unlikely yet thoroughly deserved win.

"Sometimes it’s difficult to explain what happens in a game. You have a game under control and then the opposition can do damage like they (Leganes) did in one minute," Valverde said. "We wanted to get the second goal because a one-goal lead is never enough. At 1-0 you’re close to an accident. We didn’t create the chances we`d have liked. That’s five points in three days gone and it’s difficult to explain." 

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