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Alaves 1-0 Real Madrid: LaLiga 2018-19 match report

Manu García pounced at the far post to strike in the 95th minute as Alavés beat Real Madrid for the first time in 87 years in Mendizorrotza to leave Lopetegui in a spot of bother.

Manu García celebrates scoring the decisive goal in Mendizorrotza.

Julen Lopetegui sat ashen-faced with his head in his hands as all those around him lost his in Vitoria after Alavés hammered another nail into the Real Madrid manager’s brief tenure by beating the European champions at Mendizorrotza for the first time in 87 years on Saturday.

The contrast between coaches could not have been more pronounced as Abelardo, a grin as wide as the gap between El Glorioso and the drop zone fixed on his face, celebrated with his players as World Cup, Champions League and European Championship winners all looked around in disbelief. Lopetegui, dampened from his futile exhortations on the touchline on a wet Basque evening, cannot have foreseen his acrimonious switch from the Spain national team to the Bernabéu just a few months ago panning out like this.

The statistics are damning, but that should take nothing away from a performance from the home side that served to highlight just how far from grace Madrid have fallen since triumphing in Kiev last May. Real Madrid have now failed to score a goal in 414 minutes of competitive football across four and a half games, the side’s longest drought since April 1985. Incredibly, Lopetegui’s side remained in second place in LaLiga despite the defeat but how long the Real coach will remain in situ is a matter for Florentino Pérez to consider on the journey back to the capital.

Manu García is the man who will not pay for a meal in Vitoria for the rest of his days after popping up at the far post to nod home in the 95th minute and Alavés were deserved winners on another evening when Real’s shortcomings were laid bare by a club that consistently punches above its weight and finally landed a telling blow on a team they had not beaten anywhere, in any competition, in 18 years.

Abelardo outthought Lopetegui and his players carried out the blueprint to perfection, snapping at Madrid’s heels in a high press, denying the visitors the space to play in midfield and remaining solid at the back even under Real’s early onslaught.

Lopetegui’s side had a few decent chances in the first half to open the scoring but found former Madrid keeper Fernando Pacheco equal to the task. Karim Benzema, Dani Ceballos and Nacho all found openings in the first 10 minutes but couldn’t execute them, which has been Real’s primary problem in recent weeks.

Lopetegui on thin ice after latest setback 

Julen Lopetegui on the touchline in Mendizorrotza.
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Julen Lopetegui on the touchline in Mendizorrotza.Juan Manuel Serrano ArceGetty Images

The visitors at least temporarily resolved another by not conceding in the opening 45 minutes during which Alavés were kept at arm’s length early on but it wasn’t long before the all-too-familiar cracks started to show, a loose pass here, a defensive switch off there allowing the home side to gradually grow into the game with a 10-minute spell of frantic attacking. Raphael Varane headed off the line and both Jony and Wakaso should have punished lapses of concentration but Real escaped. At the other end, Alavés kept the keys to their castle firmly in their pockets and still found space there for Karim Benzema, who did not re-emerge after the break.

Mariano, the Frenchman’s replacement, was a more lively and willing participant and almost fashioned a shooting chance moments after his introduction. A later effort would sum up Real’s evening as Bale’s excellent cross was hooked into Pacheco’s gloves by the former Lyon striker.

Lopetegui sent on Marco Asensio on the hour mark, an attacking change that saw Casemiro trudge towards the bench, but the Spain forward’s barren run continued in a below-par performance that failed to add the required spark. Bale always looked the most likely to break the deadlock but the Welshman, perhaps inevitably after sitting out the CSKA game as a precaution, succumbed to what looked like a muscle problem and limped from the pitch on 77 minutes, effectively carrying Real’s chances with him.

From there, the game looked set for a deadlock with the visitors shorn of ideas in attack and weary legs patrolling the midfield, a situation Alavés seemed happy enough to play for as well until the final minutes when the home side, urged forward by a delirious Mendizorrotza, sniffed a famous victory. With Abelardo pleading for cool heads from a corner deep in stoppage time, two of his substitutes used theirs to seal the win. The delivery arrived at the far post, where Rubén Sobrino drew a sharp save from Thibaut Courtois. The ball could have gone anywhere, but skewed to the far post where García could hardly believe his luck and headed past the despairing lunge of Sergio Ramos to send El Glorioso to third in the league, level on points with Madrid and Barcelona, and leave Lopetegui to await what now seems an almost inevitable meeting with the Bernabéu board on Sunday morning.

Alavés vs Real Madrid live online: as it happened