Real Madrid earned an away point at Samuel Chukwueze’s Villarreal on Saturday afternoon at La Ceramica, drawing 1-1.
Zinedine Zidane‘s Los Blancos sat fourth in the league table before kick-off while their hosts were in second, two points ahead, albeit with a game extra played.
The Yellow Submarine hired Unai Emery in the close-season and recruited well in the transfer market, and alongside league leaders Real Sociedad look to be strong outfits this season.
To make things more difficult for Madrid, they came into the clash with a slew of injuries and illnesses in the camp.
They managed, however, to get things off to a good start, Mariano Diaz deputising well for Karim Benzema with a goal inside three minutes.
Returning right-back Dani Carvajal floated in a good ball to tee up the Spanish-Dominican to finish and settle Madrid nerves ahead of a big game.
Villarreal equalised, however, just as the game entered into the final quarter of an hour.
Samuel Chukwueze, who came on during the second half for the hosts and was a constant menace, earned a penalty after being brought down by Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the box.
Gerard Moreno stepped up to take it and made no mistake, coolly slotting his effort into the bottom left corner of the net. Courtois was furious with himself as he came close to getting a hand on it.
The result was probably a fair one given the balance of play. Madrid were much the better side for the first 45 but tired visibly in the second half, while the hosts made intelligent changes that altered the balance of the clash.