Earlier in the day, Barcelona had gone ahead of Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table, and the supporters of the Blaugrana would have been beaming with pride as Villarreal doubled their lead against the Los Blancos in the second half. However, that was as good as it got for the Yellow Submarines as Madrid summoned all the mental strength that is required to be champions.
Coming back from two goals down, Madrid put on a display worthy of a champion team.
Goals from Manu Trigueros and Cedric Bakambu had given the team a two-nil lead at the hour mark. The Los Blancos though were far from finished as they first cut the deficit through Bale, before goals from Ronaldo and Mortar settled the game in their favour.
#1 BBC turn on the style to show Madrid mean business
For the first time in three months, Zidane had the luxury of fielding his three main attackers – Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Although Villarreal was the dominant side for the majority of the game, it was the lethality of the trio that hauled Madrid back into the game.
Bale, last weekend, had come off the bench to scamper away and score another of those thrilling goals. Against Villarreal, the Welshman was making his first start since November and was instrumental in the comeback as he cut the deficit in the 64th minute. Bale did have a chance in the first half when he found himself in a position to convert a Marcelo cross but unfortunately couldn’t keep it on target.
But as the game became more open in the second half and the pace became frenetic the Welshman found himself in space to run into. His goal arrived from a header from very close range to the bottom left corner which was assisted by a Daniel Carvajal cross.
Having regained the impetus and stalling Villarreal’s momentum, Madrid turned on the afterburners as Ronaldo smacked in a debatable penalty to equalise. And to add salt to the wounds of the home supporters, Morata was on hand to convert the goal that would ultimately seal Madrid’s victory and conclude one of the best fightbacks by Madrid this season.