MADRID: Karim Benzema missed a penalty for Real Madrid as they finally blinked in the La Liga title race, dropping their first points of the season in a 1-1 draw with Osasuna on Sunday.
After Barcelona beat Real Mallorca on Saturday, Madrid knew they had to win to stay top but were frustrated by Jagoba Arrasate’s well-organised side at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Benzema, on his return to the side after injury, won a spot-kick but then fired it against the crossbar, and also had a goal disallowed for offside as Madrid tried to force a way through.
Vinicius Junior broke the deadlock with a cross that snuck all the way through, but Kike Garcia’s well-taken header earned Osasuna a point.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez told the club’s fans at an assembly on Sunday morning that a European Super League project was essential, but Osasuna showed domestic football can still offer a significant challenge.
Benzema made his first appearance since September 6, while Andriy Lunin and Dani Ceballos started in place of injured duo Thibaut Courtois and Luka Modric.
Madrid probed promisingly down the flanks, while at the other end Abde Ezzalzouli, on loan at Osasuna from Barcelona, crashed a shot into the side netting.
The Morocco international buzzed persistently and caused problems for Dani Carvajal, determined to do his parent club a favour.
Nacho Vidal had a fine chance for the visitors but volleyed wildly across goal instead of taking his time, while Abde also screwed an effort wide at the end of a rapid counter.
Madrid’s best opportunity of the first half came when Vinicius stabbed a cross to the back post and Benzema met it, clipping a clever effort fractionally off-target.
They broke the deadlock shortly after that, in fortuitous fashion, with Vinicius whipping in a cross which caught out goalkeeper Sergio Herrera and crept in at the far post.
Osasuna complained that Benzema and Antonio Rudiger were offside and interfering with play, but their protests were dismissed.
Five minutes into the second half, Osasuna were level. Kike Garcia brilliantly looped a backwards header over Lunin.
The goal meant Madrid have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of the first seven league games.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti responded by bringing on Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga, and Los Blancos began to threaten.
Benzema drew a stunning save from Herrera, although he was offside, then neatly slipped through Rodrygo Goes, who fired over.
The French striker won a penalty when he was shoved over by David Garcia, who was sent off, but hit the crossbar with his effort. Moments later Benzema had the ball in the net, but it was disallowed for offside.
Ancelotti threw on Mariano Diaz and Marco Asensio to try and spike the three points, but to no avail.
The draw means Barcelona lead Madrid on goal difference after seven games, with both teams on 19 points and unbeaten.