Ronaldo converted a penalty kick to record his 30th goal of the season early in the second half to give Real Madrid the upper hand but the European Champions couldn’t hold on at Bernabeau. Ronaldo is one goal away from tying his scoring total last year with 12 league matches remaining.
Ronaldo started off a little sluggish but left his imprint all over the game as the contest progressed. His best chance in the opening half was from a set piece, but he blasted the free kick from 35 yards over the crossbar.
It didn’t take long for Ronaldo to get going in the second half. Three minutes into the interval, Ronaldo launched a right-footed shot inside the box from the right side, but goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo made a sprawling save.
Ronaldo got another chance three minutes later. The two-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner was awarded a penalty kick after Villarreal defender Eric Bailly grabbed him around the waist and hauled him to the ground while jostling for an incoming cross in the box. Bailly received a yellow card for his actions.
Ronaldo recorded his ninth penalty goal of the La Liga campaign by fooling Asenjo into going left and then depositing the penalty kick in the top right corner. It was his first home league goal in 85 days. The Portuguese national, who has appeared in 22 La Liga games this year, now has 207 career goals in 187 league games for Madrid — his goal totals from his five previous seasons in Madrid include 26 (2009-10), 40 (2010-11), 46 (2011-12), 34 (2012-13) and 31 (2013-14).
Not long after his goal, Ronaldo had an opportunity to give Real an insurance goal. Ronaldo received a through pass from Gareth Bale as he made a run in the box, but was denied by Asenjo, who received an accidental knee in the face.
Ronaldo set up Bale for a shot outside the box moments later. However, Bale’s left footed attempt sailed wide left of the goal. Ronaldo got off six more shots, with two being on goal, in the second half. He finished the game with 13 shot attempts with six being on goal.
Gerard Moreno tallied the equalizer for Villarreal (13-6-6, 45 points) at the 64 minute mark.
Real (20-1-4, 61 points) sits just two points ahead of Barcelona (19-2-4, 59 points) atop of Primera Division. Barcelona earned three points with a 3-1 victory over Granada on Saturday. Real and Barcelona meet on March 22 at Camp Nou.
[Videos from Youtube; Feature image courtesy of nehandaradio.com]