Real Madrid were thrashed 4-1 at struggling Valencia on Sunday as Carlos Soler scored a hat-trick of penalties to raise further doubts over La Liga’s reigning champions, reports AFP.
Madrid took the lead through Karim Benzema but presented Valencia with four gifts at Mestalla, including three spot-kicks and an own-goal scored by Raphael Varane, to fall to another surprise defeat.
“There is no justification, no excuses,” said Zinedine Zidane. “It’s a bad game and a bad day.”
This is the first time Madrid have conceded four goals since letting in five against Barcelona in October 2018 and puts the brakes on their recovery that had followed a rocky start to the season. After back-to-back losses to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donestsk last month, Zinedine Zidane’s side appeared to have turned a corner with wins over Barca, Huesca and Inter Milan. Yet this result puts the pressure back on ahead of the international break, with Madrid now fourth in the table, four points behind early leaders Real Sociedad.
A disappointing night also got worse when Benzema was forced off late on with what looked like a groin injury.
“Everything happened to us,” Zidane said. Valencia, meanwhile, started the day in 17th after enduring a nightmare start to the campaign, on the back of a transfer window which saw them sell five key players and fail to replace any of them.
A stirring victory though pushes Javi Gracia’s team up to ninth and may prove a turning point in their season. There was certainly an element of fortune in Valencia’s goals, all of them unusual and some of them bizarre. But Soler did brilliantly to beat Thibaut Courtois three times, particularly having missed his first attempt, which was retaken after the Belgian came off his line. Madrid were also without Casemiro after the Brazilian tested positive for coronavirus but a heavy loss continues a worrying trend of defensive vulnerability. Solidity was the key to them winning the title last season but they are now seven matches without a single clean sheet.
“We have to be strong in defence,” said Zidane. “If we have this, we have quality up front to make a difference.”