Real Madrid loss leaves Rafa Benitez defiant, says teams will drop points

Under-pressure Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez insists all is not lost in the Primera Division title race despite a costly 1-0 defeat at Villarreal.

Roberto Soldado's ninth-minute goal proved enough to secure the Yellow Submarine's victory on an evening when Benitez's team disappointed in front of goal despite an improved showing in the second half.

It was Real's third league loss of the season and leaves them third, five points adrift of joint leaders Barcelona and city rivals Atletico.

But Benitez, who received a vote of confidence from president Florentino Perez last month, believes their fellow title contenders will also slip up at some stage.

"It's a league season in which teams are going to drop points," he told www.realmadrid.com. "All the teams at the top are going to drop points.

"To challenge for the title you have to win a lot of games and these types of matches, with the favourable situation that existed before kickoff, are there for us to really lay down our title intentions.

"It's difficult to explain, but these things sometimes happen. I'm not happy at all with the first half. In the first half we didn't play well. I expected the team to play the way it did in the second.

"In the second half we didn't take our chances, but we did what we should have done from the start.

"The reaction the team produced in the second half is the way forward and the one positive I can come away with, but we reacted late and it has cost us three points."

Jonathan Dos Santos had already struck the post for Villarreal before Soldado gave them the lead.

Luka Modric was dispossessed in midfield by Bruno Soriano, who in turn passed to Cedric Bakambu, whose square pass to Soldado was impressively finished by the striker between goalkeeper Keylor Navas' legs.

It took until early in the second half for Real to truly threaten, with Karim Benzema missing a couple of chances while James Rodriguez came close late on.

Villarreal head coach Marcelinho was delighted with the result and told the club's official website: "We feel good after this win.

"In the first half we played very well. When we had the ball we threatened Real Madrid and there is no doubt that the goal gives you a greater confidence.

"In the second half we went through difficulties. There was a spell for each team but we played an extraordinary game and I want to thank my players."