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Rediff.com  » Sports » Football Briefs: Real throw away lead, draw final league game at Villarreal

Football Briefs: Real throw away lead, draw final league game at Villarreal

May 20, 2018 10:29 IST

News of all that's transpired on and off the football field.

IMAGE: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo is tackled by Villarreal's Mario Gaspar in Saturday's La Liga match. Photograph: Heino Kalis/Reuters

Real Madrid suffered a potential confidence jolt ahead of next week's Champions League final against Liverpool as they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Villarreal in their final La Liga game of the season on Saturday.

Gareth Bale continued his bid for a starting berth in the Kiev final by scoring his fourth goal in three league games to fire Real ahead in the 11th minute, and Cristiano Ronaldo headed in a cross from Marcelo to make it 2-0.

 

Zinedine Zidane fielded an almost full-strength team, leaving out only Karim Benzema and goalkeeper Keylor Navas, with the French coach handing a debut to his 20-year-old son, Luca Zidane, in goal.

Colombian forward Roger Martinez pulled a goal back for fifth-placed Villarreal with 19 minutes remaining and Samuel Castillejo completed the home side's revival by capitalising on a nervous moment from Zidane to knock the ball into an empty net in the 85th minute.

Real ended a disappointing domestic season in third place on 76 points, 14 behind champions Barcelona who can increase the gap to 17 if they beat Real Sociedad on Sunday. Second-placed Atletico, on 78, host Eibar.

Real can make amends by winning a 13th European Cup next week if they beat Liverpool and become the first team since 1976 to win the trophy three years in a row.

"We played very well in the first half and in the second half we were thinking about the final and managing the game, and when you do that your opponent can cause you problems," Real coach Zidane told reporters.

"The league campaign started badly for us but we have ended it well and now we've got the most beautiful thing, which is the final. We're ready for the final and we don't have any injuries. That's the most important thing."

The point was enough to ensure Villarreal finished fifth in the standings on 61 points, one above sixth-placed Real Betis, who lost 3-2 to Leganes, although both sides were already assured of automatic places in next season's Europa League.

Rebic double as Frankfurt stun Bayern 3-1 to win German Cup

IMAGE: Eintracht Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac and players celebrate with the trophy after winning the DFB Cup. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Ante Rebic struck twice as Eintracht Frankfurt upset champions Bayern Munich 3-1 on Saturday to win the German Cup for the fifth time and deny their opponents the domestic double to mark the retirement of coach Jupp Heynckes.

Croatian Rebic scored either side of a Robert Lewandowski equaliser and Frankfurt added a third in stoppage-time to make amends for last season's final loss.

It was a bittersweet farewell for Bayern's Heynckes, who will go back into retirement after taking over in October and leading them to their sixth straight Bundesliga title. Heynckes had coached them to the treble in 2013.

In a contrast of emotions, his Frankfurt counterpart Niko Kovac, who will take charge of Bayern next season, was lost in the arms of his players as he celebrated Frankfurt's first Cup win in 30 years.

"That's life," Kovac said. "I am happy for these amazing fans and for my team.

"When you stand together you can do everything. That is what marked this team for my two-and-a-half years here. Last year we missed out but this year we made it. We deserved it."

Bayern could have scored early when Lewandowski's free kick bounced off the crossbar but it was the underdogs who went in front when their pressing paid off in the 11th minute and Rebic was sent through to slot in.

Bayern squandered half a dozen golden chances through Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski, Thomas Mueller and Joshua Kimmich before the break rescued Frankfurt.

Poland striker Lewandowski made amends in the 53rd, sliding in to drill home a Kimmich cutback.

The game had lost some of its earlier pace but Frankfurt again pounced on sloppy Bayern defending for Rebic to put them back ahead.

The Bavarians desperately searched for a late equaliser and hit the bar through Mats Hummels but they gave Frankfurt far too much space and Mijat Gacinovic found plenty of it to complete a break deep in stoppage-time and score into an empty net.

"We did not use our chances," Heynckes said. "In sports there are wins as well as defeats.

"Tonight was an avoidable defeat. But Frankfurt were ambitious, strong and with passion and they also had the necessary luck. They are deserved Cup winners," the 73-year-old added.

Zidane continues Real family dynasty by playing son Luca

IMAGE: Luca Zidane makes his debut as goalkeeper for Real Madrid in the La Liga match against Villarreal on Saturday. Photograph: Heino Kalis/Reuters

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane handed a La Liga debut to his son Luca by starting him in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Villarreal in their final Liga game of the season, making the goalkeeper the third Zidane family member to play for the Spanish giants.

Frenchman Zidane was expected to rest first-choice players in their last game before next Saturday's Champions League final against Liverpool but fielded a full-strength side against Villarreal, with the exception of the 20-year-old goalkeeper.

The second oldest of Zinedine's four sons, Luca had a relatively quiet first half as his side took a 2-0 lead into and he made an impressive save by tipping a free kick from Nicola Sansone over the bar after the interval.

His hopes of keeping a clean sheet were ended by Roger Martinez's sweeping shot into the top corner which he could do little about but his inexperience became more evident when he misjudged a long ball into the path of Samuel Castillejo and the Villarreal forward dribbled past him to equalise.

"He has been waiting a long time to play and he is like any other player in the squad. He did well and I'm happy that he made his debut," Zidane said.

"It's not difficult for me to separate the role of coach and father, I'm pleased for him as his dad and as his coach, and we'll see each other later at home."

Before making his competitive debut on Sunday, Luca had only played two friendly games for Madrid's first team, pre-season matches against an MLS all-star team and Serie A side Fiorentina last August.

The former Real midfielder's oldest son Enzo Fernandez made one appearance for the Spanish side in last season's King's Cup, scoring in a 6-1 win over Cultural Leonesa. He now plays for Lausanne Sport in Switzerland.

Zidane's youngest two sons Theo and Elyaz are part of Real's youth set-up, creating the possibility that all four children will follow their father in turning out for the club.

They might struggle, however, to have the same impact as their father, who inspired Real to the 2002 Champions League and is one game away from becoming the first coach to guide them to three successive European Cups.