Las Palmas 2-2 Real Madrid: Los Blancos denied return to winning ways by late Araujo equaliser

Real Madrid were left to rue their missed opportunities at the Estadio Gran Canaria on Saturday night as an 85th-minute Sergio Araujo strike succumbed them to a 2-2 draw against Las Palmas in La Liga.

Las Palmas 2-2 Real Madrid: Los Blancos denied return to winning ways by late Araujo equaliser
(Picture: Getty Images)
Las Palmas
2 2
Real Madrid
Las Palmas: Varas; Michel, David García, Aythami, Dani Castellano; Roque Mesa, Vicente, Momo (Araujo, min. 68), Tana, Jonathan Viera (El Zhar, min. 54); Livaja (Lemos, min. 87).
Real Madrid: Casilla; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho; Modric, Kroos, Asensio (Benzema, min. 64); Bale, Morata (Isco, min. 80), Ronaldo (Lucas Vazquez, min. 71).
SCORE: 0-1, min. 33, Asensio. 1-1, min. 38, Tana. 1-2, min. 67, Benzema. 2-2, min. 85, Araujo.
REFEREE: Javier Estrada Fernández (ESP). Bookings: Roque Mesa (min. 23), David Garcia (min. 54), Kroos (min. 58), Carvajal (min. 76), Tana (min. 90+2).
INCIDENTS: La Liga match-day six fixture between UD Las Palmas and Real Madrid CF at Estadia Gran Canaria, in front of 20,000 spectators.

Real Madrid's gap at the top of La Liga was narrowed to just one point on Saturday evening as substitute Sergio Araujo secured a late 2-2 draw for Las Palmas at the Estadio Gran Canaria on Saturday evening.

After spurning a host of first-half opportunities, summer signing Marco Asensio headed a rebound into an empty net from just a few yards out to give Madrid the advantage after 33 minutes.

But the lead lasted no longer than five minutes as Pedro Tana earned the home side just rewards for their daring attacking play, curling a left-footed effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

The Canary Islanders put up an admirable fight, frequently attempting to take the game to Madrid, but Benzema fired in a rebound after Cristiano Ronaldo's shot was saved in the 67th minute, having only entered the fray a few minutes earlier.

The home side looked to have run out of steam, but suddenly equalised again with just five minutes of normal time remaining - a substitute of their own own, Sergio Araujo, bundled home a late equaliser after Ronaldo had been controversially brought off.

That meant Las Palmas' unbeaten home run, starting from the last time they welcomed Madrid to town back in March, continued while Zinedine Zidane's men returned to the top of the league.

But their lead at the top was trimmed to only one point, ahead of arch rivals Barcelona, as they were left to squander their plethora of missed opportunities after drawing for the second successive game.

Changes aplenty for both sides

Madrid made four changes to the team that was denied a record 17th straight league win by Villarreal in a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, with Nacho coming in for the injured Marcelo at left-back.

Dani Carvajal replaced Danilo at right-back, with James Rodriguez and Mateo Kovacic dropped to the bench as Luka Modric and Marco Asensio came in to partner Toni Kroos.

In goal, Kiko Casilla maintained his place over Keylor Navas - who returned to the bench after a heel injury - while Alvaro Morata was preferred to Benzema to lead the line.

Las Palmas, who were top of the table after winning their first two games and scoring nine goals in the process, were thrashed 4-1 by Real Sociedad in their previous game.

With midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng suspended and their two first-choice centre-backs out injured, Quique Setien made seven changes with David Simon, Mauricio Lemos, Pedro Bigas, Nabil El-Zhar, Sergio Araujo, Angel Montoro and Boateng all making way.

Michel MacedoDavid GarciaAythami ArtilesVicente Gomez, MomoJonathan Viera, Marko Livaja came in as the hosts named a side consisting of an impressive eight local outfield players.

Having watched a Lionel Messi-less Barcelona romp to a 5-0 win at 10-man Sporting Gijon earlier in the day, Madrid looked to lay down an early marker - goalkeeper Javier Varas Herrera called in to action to deny Kroos after he had robbed Momo of possession in his own half. 

Only a minute later, Varas had to tip Morata's header from a Modric free-kick over the crossbar as the visitors continued to apply early pressure.

In the 13th minute, Ronaldo - visibly dismayed when Kroos opted to shoot rather than pass to him in space earlier - couldn't complain at the service he received when Morata picked him out with a clever cut-back.

But the Portugal captain miscontrolled the pass, fluffing his resulting show which allowed a defender to track back and block the attempt. 

Ronaldo, starting just his third league game back from an extended break after his heroics at Euro 2016, flashed a dipping 25-yard volley just wide with Varas desperately scrambling across his line.

Madrid waste abundance of first-half chances

But it was far from a one-way game, with Las Palmas' attractive approach play seeing them knit together a lovely flowing move which saw Viera stab wide from Javi Castellano's low cross.

Eight of the Yellows' 12 La Liga wins last season came on home soil, where they had also won two of two prior to Saturday this term and gone six unbeaten, and they had plenty of confidence in their ability to cause Madrid problems.

By contrast, it was almost as if the jet-leg of a 1,085-mile trip to Gran Canaria took its toll on the Madrid players, who continually made the wrong decisions in the final third as they searched for an opener.

The breakthrough beckoned, but Los Blancos could not force home an opener - Ronaldo and Morata both seeing shots blocked inside the box after Carvajal's drive down the right-hand side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up the other end, Las Palmas went increasingly closer as both sides created opportunities. Viera extravagantly flicked the ball up over the Madrid defence for Pedro Tana to test Casilla, before Viera's low shot from range resulted in another simple save for the Madrid 'keeper.

Asensio header cancelled out by Tana strike

However, the deadlock was finally broken in the 33rd minute when Asensio headed in from close-range. Nacho powered down the left before looking to find the bottom corner and Varas could only parry out to Asensio, who headed into an empty net for his third goal in Madrid colours since joining from Espanyol in the summer.

That lead didn't last long, with Las Palmas drawing level by the 38th minute through Tana - who delighted the home crowd with a tidy finish into the bottom corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raphael Varane's poor clearing header from a Momo cross dropped straight to Tana, who took one touch to control, another to get the ball out of his feet and a crucial third to curl into the bottom left corner to make it 1-1 and himself score a third of the season.

Madrid looked to hit back again before the break, but Varas made a fine stop to prevent the largely quiet Gareth Bale from restoring the lead - palming the Welshman's half-volley wide of his near post.

Despite having 17 first-half shots, Ronaldo and Bale were largely quiet in the opening 45 but took just a couple of minutes to combine brilliantly after the restart.

A quick throw-in released Ronaldo down the left side and he spotted Bale in space with a cross, but Varas was equal to the latter's shot from the edge of the box.

Ronaldo had the ball in the back of the net by 57 minutes, the ball breaking to him to spin and fire beyond Varas, only to be rightly denied by the linesman's flag for straying beyond the last man.

Las Palmas' last win over Madrid came when visiting manager Zidane represented the club on the pitch, as opposed to on the touchline, way back in October 2001.

But such was their confidence, particularly in the manner in which Setien's side sought to attack Madrid in numbers, a victory here was far from out of the question as the hour mark approached.

They enjoyed more of the possession, albeit less shots on goal, and linked up well moving forward - with Zidane recognising that and bringing Benzema on for the lively Asensio after 63 minutes.

That led to a top-heavy formation, with famed front-three Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo - otherwise known as BBC - in addition to Morata giving them plenty of quality going forward.

Benzema off the bench to restore Real's lead

Benzema almost scored with his first touch, coming on at a corner which dropped to his feet although the Frenchman couldn't react quickly enough to shoot from close-range, before a deflection from Bale's near-post cross forced another reaction from Varas.

But Benzema repaid the faith shown in him by countryman Zidane just three minutes after coming on, finishing a rebound after Ronaldo saw a shot saved.

Morata poked the ball into space for Ronaldo to run into down the left side channel and though his right-footed shot was stopped, Varas couldn't prevent the ball from bouncing out to Benzema who only needed to apply a simple finish to make it 2-1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madrid remained positive as Madrid lined up with a front-four - Ronaldo on the left, Bale on the right and Benzema and Morata as a strike partnership in the middle - as they primed to counter against a tiring Las Palmas.

Lucas Vazquez's introduction for Ronaldo added further fresh legs on the break to try and punish the hosts, though the No.7 clearly disagreed with his withdrawal given his frustrated reaction on the substitutes' bench.

Las Palmas rescue a late point

And in his absence, Madrid crumbled late on - another fine move from Las Palmas see Livaja cushion a header in to the path of Araujo at the near post.

The substitute's initial effort was denied by Casilla, but a fortunate deflection fell his way for the striker to fire home a late equaliser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madrid had chances to turn the result back in their favour again, Benzema side-footing over the crossbar and Isco heading over the bar, in stoppage time as they squandered the chance to restore a three-point lead at the top.

Having had just shy of 30 shots on goal throughout the evening, they will see it as two points dropped despite returning to the summit of Spanish football - drawing for a second straight game.