Real take point at Villarreal
By Alex Livie. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Real Madrid lost further ground on Liga leaders Barcelona when being held to a 0-0 draw by Villarreal.
England captain David Beckham and Michael Owen both started for Real, but they failed to make telling contributions for Los Galacticos.
For a side of their quality, Villarreal are perilously close to the foot of their table and they did everything but score on Sunday - with Iker Casillas the busier of the two keepers.
Brazilian superstar Ronaldo has had a quiet season by his own high standards and he was again off the pace on Sunday.
He twice blazed over in the opening ten minutes and then wasted a gilt-edged chance to score, having been teed up by Owen, as he waited an age to get his shot away and was crowded out by defenders.
Beckham came close to opening the scoring on the half-hour mark, but he rattled the crossbar with a trademark free kick.
Villarreal are a force on home soil, as Middlesbrough will testify to, and new signing Luciano Figueroa, who wants to be known as Lucho, twice went close in the first half but found Casillas his equal.
Villarreal held sway after the break, with the impressive Juan Roman Riquelme calling the shots in the middle of the park, but they failed to find a telling goal and remain uncomfortably close to the foot of the table.
Lucio (pictured) should have settled the match when escaping the attentions of Walter Samuel 20 minutes from time, but he failed to mark his debut with a goal as he dragged his shot across the face of goal.
The Argentine had the ball in the net in the final 15 minutes, but his effort was chalked off for a marginal offside, while Diego Forlan failed to find the target from close in as Real rode their luck in the latter stages.