Real Madrid missed a chance to return to the top of La Liga on Sunday, throwing away a lead to lose 3-2 at Sevilla, with Sergio Ramos’ injury-enforced withdrawal worsening matters.
Rafael Benitez’s men were knocked off top spot thanks to Barcelona’s victory over Villarreal earlier in the day and the visitors then suffered the first defeat of the coach’s reign despite welcoming back Gareth Bale from injury at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Karim Benzema was absent from the squad following a week in which the injured striker was charged as part of an investigation into an alleged sex-tape plot involving France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, but Madrid’s quest to return to top spot began well without him.
Captain Ramos scored against his former employers, only to injure himself in the process and go off half an hour in. From there, momentum shifted as Sevilla levelled before the break courtesy of Ciro Immobile’s first goal for the club.
Ever Banega then completed the comeback after the break as Madrid fell behind for the first time this season.
The introduction of James Rodriguez, making his return from a calf injury as a substitute, failed to secure an equaliser, with Sevilla securing an eye-catching win when Fernando Llorente added a third shortly after replacing Immobile.
Rodriguez did mark his return to fitness with a 93rd-minute consolation strike but Madrid and Benitez will hope the international break does not add to their injury list, with the potentially crucial visit of Barca to come on November 21.
Amid early Madrid pressure, Cristiano Ronaldo saw an effort blocked by Mariano before Nacho rattled the woodwork with an effort from outside the area.
As Sevilla sat deep, the visitors got their breakthrough courtesy of a sublime Ramos finish midway through the half.
Against his former club, he produced a stunning bicycle kick to beat Sergio Rico, but in doing do appeared to hurt his left shoulder.
Sevilla responded well, Ramos required to deny Immobile a clear-cut chance before the Madrid defender was replaced by Raphael Varane.
Four minutes after Ramos’ departure, Immobile opened his Sevilla account with an expert finish from a tight angle following a deep corner not dealt with by the visiting defence.
The Borussia Dortmund loanee’s first goal since March sent Sevilla in level at half-time, although the Italian came close to a second before the break when he prodded Benoit Tremoulinas’ cross wide.
Both sides had chances in an open start to the second half, Yevhen Konoplyanka threatening for the hosts while Toni Kroos sent an effort wide for Madrid.
Ronaldo too fired wide but Benitez’s side looked ponderous in the final third while Sevilla were anything but as they went ahead through a stunning passing move finished off by Banega.
The Argentine benefitted from a quick one-two involving Konoplyanka and Immobile before converting the former’s cross to complete the turnaround.
Rodriguez was introduced by Benitez in an attempt to salvage something from the game but Ronaldo’s decision to shoot from a tight angle instead of play in Luka Modric somewhat typified Madrid’s lacklustre attacking play.
Casemiro’s header was well saved by Rico but substitute Llorente sealed the points when he headed home unmarked inside the area 16 minutes from time.
Rodriguez made his case to start when Barca visit for El Clasico after the international break with a goal deep into stoppage time but it mattered little as Madrid remain three points off the leaders.