Girona pulled off a shock 2-1 victory over Real Madrid on Sunday, in a historic encounter at Montilivi.
Madrid took an early lead through Isco, but Girona hit the woodwork twice and went on to claim a fully-deserved win thanks to goals from Portu and former Middlesbrough striker Cristhian Stuani, ending Los Blancos' record run of 13 consecutive away victories and becoming the first-ever, newly-promoted team to beat the visitors.
Madrid were as full-strength as can be for their first-ever trip to Girona, with Dani Carvajal, Mateo Kovacic, Keylor Navas and Gareth Bale still absent.
Girona, meanwhile, ended a run of six games without a win last weekend, when they beat Deportivo La Coruna 2-1 to move three points clear of La Liga’s relegation places.
Pablo Machin’s side had only defender Pedro Alcala missing, but Manchester City loanee Douglas Luiz didn’t fit into their 5-4-1 formation.
Catalonia’s declaration of independence on Friday resulted in the Spanish state implementing direct rule on the region, prompting fears of a tense atmosphere at Montilivi.
Consequently, there was a significant police presence outside the stadium, similar to Barcelona’s match against Las Palmas behind closed doors at the start of the month.
Girona had already faced two sides from Madrid in Atletico and Leganes, drawing with both of them, and it took them barely 10 minutes to hit Kiko Casilla’s left-hand post through Pablo Maffeo’s angled drive.
Yet Madrid immediately hit back on the counterattack through Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese’s shot was parried away by Bono but to only as far as Isco, who finished off the rebound.
Karim Benzema then pulled to the left of Bono’s goal but blazed over from close range, before the post denied Portu’s glancing header from crossing the line.
Raphael Varane became the 64th player to reach 200 appearances for Madrid, but his afternoon was ended prematurely by a suspected thigh injury, which saw him make way for Nacho Fernandez at half-time.
Aday Benitez was on hand to head Benzema’s expertly-executed flick away from Girona’s goal, but Varane’s substitution seemed to destabilise Los Merenges as Stuani’s quick feet saw him bypass Nacho in the box and bury his finish across Casilla.
Four minutes later, Portu was at the right place at the right time to turn in Maffeo’s cross-shot from the right, leaving Montilivi in raptures.
Madrid went ultra-attacking as Achraf and Marcelo were sacrificed for Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio, but that only let Girona find more space in behind, Stuani springing Los Blancos’ offside trap and lifting his one-on-one finish over Casilla, although it whistled inches wide of the far post.
Ronaldo was anonymous for most part, but the No 7 could’ve done better when he met Toni Kroos’ free kick, only heading into Bono’s gloves.
Madrid launched cross after cross into Girona’s box, but it was all pretty aimless, although Girona needed the offside flag to disallow Vazquez’s close-range effort.
Isco then took down a lobbed ball down the right of the hosts’ box, but his volley was straight at Bono, before Larry Kayode squeezed between both Madrid centre-backs yet couldn’t poke his finish past Casilla.
The result left Madrid trailing eight points behind Barcelona at the top, while Girona won back-to-back games in La Liga for the first time ever.
Girona 2-1 Real Madrid
Stuani 54, Portu 58 (G) Isco 12 (RM)
Girona: Bono; Maffeo, Bernardo, Juanpe, Muniesa, Aday; Portu (Kayode 82), Granell, Pons, Borja Garcia (Timor 75); Stuani (Mojica 88)
Real Madrid: Casilla; Achraf (Asensio 66), Varane (Nacho 46), Ramos, Marcelo (Vazquez 66); Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema
Referee: Hernandez Hernandez