MADRID, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Stumbling La Liga champions Real Madrid slumped to a second defeat in three league games by losing 1-0 to Villarreal as their hapless title defence continued on a rain swept Saturday at a sparsely attended Santiago Bernabeu.
Zinedine Zidane’s side dominated the game but succumbed to an 87th minute strike from Pablo Fornals, who chipped over goalkeeper Keylor Navas on the rebound after a lightning quick counterattack as the visitors cleared a Real corner.
Madrid had a penalty appeal waved away in the first half when visiting defender Alvaro Gonzalez appeared to block a shot from Gareth Bale with his arm. Cristiano Ronaldo was thwarted from close range on the stroke of halftime by a breathtaking save from Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.
Real remain fourth in the Liga standings on 32 points and are only one point and one place above Villarreal. They could be a stunning 19 points behind runaway leaders Barcelona if Ernesto Valverde’s side beat Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Later on Saturday, second-placed Atletico Madrid play away to Eibar while third-placed Valencia visit Deportivo La Coruna. (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)