Real Madrid had an opportunity to go top of La Liga and all they had to do was defeat a Villarreal side that had failed to win at home against Madrid in over six years.
LALIGA: Villarreal stun champions Real Madrid to hand advantage to Barcelona
Villarreal secured a first home victory over Real Madrid since 2015, as second-half goals from Yeremy Pino and Gerard Moreno fired the Yellow Submarine to a 2-1 triumph at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Villarreal vs Real Madrid first half
Villarreal came into this contest on the back of five straight wins across all competitions and they started in confident fashion. They nearly took a shock early lead when Francis Coquelin directed an audacious backheel against the base of the post.
Having survived an opening 15 minutes dominated by the hosts, Los Blancos gradually grew into the match before the half-hour mark, however the usually-reliable Karim Benzema and defender Eder Militao both fired excellent chances narrowly wide of the target.
In an opening half devoid of cutting edge in front of goal, Real Madrid looked to up the ante before halftime in pursuit of a breakthrough. Vinicius Junior, a constant threat in behind the Villarreal defence, came close, but was denied by a smart Pepe Reina save.
Villarreal vs Real Madrid second half
Villarreal emerged after the restart eager to stamp their authority on proceedings, and duly opened the scoring within two minutes, as Yeremy Pino collected a clever pass from Gerard Moreno, before finishing coolly beyond Courtois.
Undeterred by the setback, the visitors searched for an immediate response, and after Benzema spurned another glorious opportunity, the French international made no mistake from the penalty spot following an unfortunate handball by Juan Foyth in the box.
Remarkably, the hosts were awarded a penalty of their own just two minutes later, when David Alaba was penalised for handball, allowing Moreno to step up and restore the Yellow Submarine’s advantage.
Despite seeing plenty of the ball and a late opportunity for Antonio Rudiger, Los Blancos were unable to make their pressure count, as the Villarreal rearguard held firm to inflict a costly defeat on the title-chasing visitors.
Madrid stay second, level on 38 points with Barca who visit fourth-placed Atletico Madrid on Sunday, while Villarreal move them up to fifth spot.