Real Madrid fall further behind leaders Barca, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Real Madrid fall further behind leaders Barca

Galacticos fall further behind leaders Barca, but Solari insists title race is still on

Real Madrid threw away a one-goal lead and perhaps their hopes of catching Barcelona as Girona came from behind to pull off a shock 2-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu yesterday.

Girona had not won in 13 matches and looked on course for a seventh straight defeat when Casemiro headed a dominant Real ahead in the first half.

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But complacency set in, and Girona took full advantage as Christian Stuani scored a penalty and Portu nodded in at the back post to stun the European champions.

To add to Real's misery, captain Sergio Ramos was sent off in the 90th minute.

The El Clasico on March 3 will be a lot less nervy now, given that leaders Barcelona's cushion has been extended to nine points over Real, with Atletico Madrid jumping back above them into second, seven points off the top.

However, Real coach Santiago Solari believes the title race is still on.

He said: "It's a shame. We drop points and our rivals won. It is a pity because we were on a great run. Is the league over? Not at all.

"We have played a lot of games recently and that leads to not just physical tiredness but mental fatigue too, and that may have played a part in us losing energy in the second half."

Solari will take some of the blame after he made six changes to the line-up following the Champions League win over Ajax in midweek, their seventh victory in eight games.

Gareth Bale and Vinicius Junior both started on the bench, while Luka Modric was suspended.

But perhaps his biggest mistake was handing the out-of-form left back Marcelo a first league start since Jan 6.

Real started comfortably but slipped into complacency and, shortly after the hour, they were punished.

Stuani's header spilled out to Douglas Luiz, whose finish was blocked by the hand of Ramos.

The Real skipper was booked and Stuani made no mistake with the penalty.

Girona almost scored again, Portu's shot rattling the outside of the post, and then they did. Casemiro missed a tackle in midfield and Anthony Lozano's shot was parried to Portu.

Marcelo dangled a leg but failed to stop the header from creeping inside the post. - AFP