Real Madrid has been dealt another blow to their campaign to defend their La Liga title after being stunned by league debutants Girona by 2-1 on their first visit to the Catalan team.
There had been security concerns before the Spanish capital team’s visit to the region, but aside from several pro-independence flags were on display at the small Montilivi Stadium, and the crowd sang “freedom” chants, but nothing disrupted the match.
But it was Real who opened the scoring for the visitors — with Isco speeding away from two defenders in the box before curling a left-footed shot out of goalkeeper Bono’s reach.
Still, the hosts were able hit back and snatched the lead with a decisive four-minute stretch to start the second half, with Cristhian Stuani first equalizing in the 54th minute, when he latched onto a loose ball and fired his low shot past Kiko Casilla from inside the box.
Portu then clinched the points for Girona’s third win four minutes later by sensationally back-heeling Pablo Maffeo’s low cross to the delight of the Catalan crowd, delivering an unbelievable victory to a squad consisting mainly of loan players and free signings.
“We fully deserved it,” said the Girona coach, Pablo Machín. “If you’d said to me three years ago the fans would leave singing after beating Real Madrid I’d have said you were crazy.”
With defeat, Real Madrid’s 13-match top-flight away winning streak — the longest ever by any team in Europe’s top five domestic leagues, comes to an end.
Zinedine Zidane’s team — although placing at a respectable third at the Liga table — is now eight points behind Barcelona, four behind Valencia, and tied on points with Atletico Madrid.