Girona inflicted a humiliating 4-2 defeat on reigning champions Real Madrid on Tuesday night, with all four goals for the hosts coming from Taty Castellanos.
The former New York City FC striker rattled off just six shots on an evening where everything clicked for Girona while Real Madrid’s faint title hopes crumbled further.
Girona may reside in mid-table but only two clubs in La Liga have scored more goals than Michel’s adventurous Catalan outfit this season. Six sets of red and white stripes crashed Real Madrid’s penalty area as the hosts waltzed down the left flank after ten minutes. Miguel Gutierrez, a former Madrid academy graduate, was one of the half-dozen forward, clipping a cross into the six-yard box for Castellanos to nod past Thibaut Courtois’ stand-in, Andriy Lunin.
Carlo Ancelotti lauded the “beautiful football” which Girona play ahead of the match but the visitors doubled their lead via a simple ball over the top. Arnau Martinez blasted a clearance downfield which Castellanos eagerly chased. Holding off a dozing Eder Militao, Girona’s leading scorer doubled his tally on the night, rifling the ball between Lunin’s legs within the opening 25 minutes.
With a two-goal lead to defend, Girona couldn’t help but creep deep. Real Madrid’s cadre of technically excellent stars demonstrated the silk to slip between the tightly defensive lines. Marco Asensio continued his superb individual form with a delicate dink towards the back post. Girona lined up with two right-backs to combat Vinicius Junior but neither spotted the Brazilian sneak in to halve the deficit after 34 minutes.
Burned by resting on their laurels at 2-0 up, Girona fought Madrid’s fire with a fierce flame of their own. Scarcely 35 seconds of the second half had elapsed by the time Castellanos swept Yan Couto’s low cross past a poorly positioned Lunin to complete his hat-trick.
As recently as last month, Ancelotti hailed Militao as “the best centre-back in the world” but the Brazilian’s waking nightmare on Tuesday made that lofty billing look sarcastic. Just as he had for Girona’s second, Militao completely lost sight of Castellanos – despite his peroxide-blonde hair – letting the Argentine peel off his shoulder to head in from the second phase of a corner. By pilfering a haul, Castellanos became the first player since 1947 to net four goals in the same game against Los Blancos in La Liga.
Vinicius spent the entire contest raging against Girona’s stubborn rearguard, the referee and a riotous home crowd. The Brazilian’s repeated petulant outbursts somehow went unpunished long enough for Vinicius to weave along the byline and cut the ball back for Lucas Vazquez to tuck in Madrid’s second.
The 85th-minute consolation was enough to lift Ancelotti out of his slump in the dugout but it couldn’t outweigh Madrid’s second-half collapse, leaving the capital side 11 points behind Barcelona with just seven league games left. Los Blancos still have a Copa del Rey final to contest and meet Girona’s sister club Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals next month.
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GK: Paulo Gazzaniga (6); RB: Arnau Martinez (8); CB: Santiago Bueno (7); CB: Juanpe (6); LB: Miguel Gutierrez (7); DM: Oriol Romeu (7); RM: Yan Couto (8); CM: Victor Tsygankov (7) CM: Ivan Martin (6); LM: Rodrigo Riquelme (6); ST: Valentin Castellanos (10).
Substitutes: Cristhian Stuani (6), Valery Fernandez (6)
GK: Andriy Lunin – 2/10 – Offered little in the way of rebuttal against most of Girona’s efforts.
RB: Dani Carvajal – 3/10 – Underwhelming going forward and unconvincing at the other end.
CB: Eder Militao – 1/10 – An evening that Castellanos will always remember is one Militao may desperately try to forget.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – 3/10 – Playing a different game to his defensive partner, almost impressive how perfectly out of sync he was with Militao.
LB: Nacho Fernandez – 3/10 – Repeatedly exposed as a makeshift full-back when forced to cover from than a handful of yards. Hooked after just seven second-half minutes.
CM: Fede Valverde – 4/10 – Much like the scraggly tufts of hair on his chin, Valverde’s passing was unkempt and ragged.
CM: Toni Kroos – 5/10 – Unerringly comfortable receiving the ball even under extreme pressure but less effective out of possession.
CM: Luka Modric – 5/10 – Peppered the game with sublime taps and touches but didn’t dominate proceedings.
RW: Marco Asensio – 6/10 – Delivered a lovely assist in the first half but faded after the break.
ST: Rodrygo – 5/10 – Missed a chance within the opening 40 seconds from close range and failed to find a better opening thereafter.
LW: Vinicius Junior – 7/10 – Up for a scrap from the opening whistle, Vinicius kept on plugging away until the final whistle.
Eduardo Camavinga (52′ for Nacho) – 4/10 – Added a bit more thrust than Nacho but not a great deal more solidity.
Aurelien Tchouameni (63′ for Modric) – 5/10
Lucas Vazquez (79′ for Carvajal) – 6/10 – Took his goal nicely with his weaker left foot.
Mariano Diaz (79′ for Rodrygo) – N/A
Carlo Ancelotti – 3/10 – Madrid were completely incapable of a coping with Girona’s waves of attacks yet the hosts always seemed to have plenty of bodies back to defend.