Rafa Benitez admitted Real Madrid “had to win” Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Villarreal after they fell five points adrift of the La Liga summit.
Roberto Soldado’s early strike was enough to earn the Yellow Submarine their first victory over Los Blancos since May 2009, and the Coach conceded his side missed a golden opportunity to prove their title credentials.
“The team didn’t do what we expected to do at the start of the game,” he said after the game.
“It’s one of those seasons when all the top teams will lose points.
“I wasn’t happy with the first half. Our reaction in the second half was the way forward, but unfortunately it was too late and [our first half] cost us the points.
“It’s hard to explain [our lack of ambition in the first half].
“When we responded so well in the second half, we must analyse why we didn’t do well at the beginning.
“We know that, to fight for the title, we have to win a lot of games and this was one that we had to win.
“The only positive was the reaction from the players.
“[On no early changes], we were superior to them in the opening stages of the second half.
“The team started [the second half] so well, that it seemed a matter of time before we scored
“We’re still the team with the most shots on goal, but we have to improve our finishing.
“[Villarreal] did well in the first half, playing with ease and speed.
“We didn’t react well to the second half, but then we didn’t have the necessary accuracy in front of goal.
“[Toni Kroos] didn’t play as I played Casemiro instead.”