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    Sunday, January 2, 2022

    Getafe Ends Real Madrid’s 15-Game Unbeaten Streak

    Getafe players celebrate after scoring the opening goal during the La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Getafe at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium in Getafe, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
    Getafe ended Real Madrid’s 15-game unbeaten streak after beating the Spanish league leaders 1-0 in the capital derby on Sunday.

    Striker Enes Unal got the host’s winner in the ninth minute after he stole the ball from Madrid defender Éder Militão near the goal and beat Thibaut Courtois.

    Madrid went no closer to an equalizer than Luka Modric’s strike that hit the crossbar in the 17th. Eden Hazard and Marcelo came on as halftime substitutions but could not spark a comeback.

    Carlo Ancelotti gently chastised his team for not playing at its best in its return from a winter break that lasted less than two weeks.

    “We can’t get carried away by this loss,” Ancelotti said. “We are still leaders and are excited about what is to come… A player who normally stands out for his defensive play gifted them their goal. There is not much more to say, except that it looked like we thought we were still on vacation.”

    Madrid’s previous loss came on Oct. 3 when it fell 2-1 at Espanyol. Since then, it had won 13 and drawn two across all competitions.

    Ancelotti had steered Madrid to wins over Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Sevilla and Inter Milan during its unbeaten run.

    But it was unable to rally after a mistake by Militão, who tarnished his otherwise excellent season along with centerback partner David Alaba, with the pair filling the void left by the exits of veterans Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

    Toni Kroos appeared to have snuffed out Getafe’s attack when he recovered the ball and shuffled it over to Militão, but Unal pressured him hard and poked the ball clear before scoring.

    “Sometimes as a striker, you just sense that there can be something there. Luckily it worked out,” Unal said about his goal.

    Getafe, which beat Osasuna 1-0 in the last round before the winter break, rose three points clear of the relegation zone in 15th place.

    The modest club from a neighborhood of Madrid started the season losing its first seven matches. But it has turned things around in the league after Quique Sánchez Flores took over in early October and has gone unbeaten in six rounds.

    Second-place Sevilla visits Cádiz on Monday nine points behind Madrid.

    Courtois started the match after it was determined that his positive COVID-19 result from earlier this week was erroneous. Madrid was without in-form winger Vinícius Júnior after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

    The match was the first to be played since Spanish health authorities put back in place caps on attendance after the steep rise in COVID-19 infections. All games are limited to 75% of capacity, with some regions like Catalonia and the Basque Country applying even lower limits. -AP

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