Karim Benzema equalised Alvaro Cejudo’s stunning opener in controversial fashion but Real Betis had Antonio Adan to thank for a point against Real Madrid.
Betis hadn’t scored a goal since December 15 but Cejudo’s effort was worth waiting for, Benito Villamarin exploding as his rocket of a shot beat Keylor Navas.
Madrid dominated but couldn’t get past Antonio Adan until Toni Kroos split the Betis defence and found James Rodriguez, who was just beyond the last defender, and he gave Benzema an easy finish.
If not for Adan then Madrid would surely have taken a comfortable victory, the former Madrid goalkeeper captaining Betis and making a number of wonderful saves.
James got the nod from Zinedine Zidane to step in for the injured Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos also missing, while Betis named Ruben Castro to lead their line.
It was Castro’s run that caused problems for Madrid and drew a save from Navas, youngster Fabian teeing up the dropping ball that resulted for Cejudo, who leathered one into the top corner from just outside the penalty area.
Madrid started on the front foot, looking to press Betis, but after Betis went in front the visitors found it difficult to create chances. A tame Isco header was perhaps the best.
That was until Cristiano Ronaldo was set free, eight yards from goal, but the forward badly scuffed his shot and the ball trickled harmlessly wide.
Pepe was left unmarked to meet a corner as Betis lived on the edge, two warnings that their lead is far from impervious, and had a third life when Benzema’s pleas for a penalty were ignored despite Petros trampling on his foot.
Benzema was in the thick of it again after half time when he had a close-range shot snuffed out by Adan, the goalkeeper rescuing his defence which fell to pieces.
Betis’ defending was no more rigorous from a corner a little later when James found himself unmarked eight yards out, but could only volley directly at Adan.
It was almost all Madrid in the second half but Los Blancos couldn’t make their better possession or position count, thanks in part to their own profligacy but also a standout performance from ex-Madrid man Adan.
Adan wasn’t tested when Dani Carvajal dragged a shot wide following Marcelo’s cross-field pass and had no chance after Kroos took the Betis defence out of the equation to find the offside James, Benzema doing the honours from close range.
James nearly got a goal with a fierce drive but Adan palmed it away well and then somehow kept on Benzema immediately after with a strong hand to a shot that seemed to have gone past him.
The final portion of the game was almost entirely played in the Betis final third but Madrid struggled to turn domination into goals, and had to make do with one point that should have been three.
Betis nearly stole all three points when Joaquin went clear but his shot flashed past Navas’ goal and the spoils were shared.