Sporting Gijon 0-0 Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo and Co fail to find the net as Rafa Benitez's reign gets off to disappointing start

  • Rafa Benitez was taking charge of his first La Liga match as Real Madrid manager after replacing Carlo Ancelotti
  • It was the hosts who went closest to opening the scoring in the first half when Antonio Sanabria rattled the woodwork 
  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale both went close for the visitors but were kept out by Gijon goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar 

Rafa Benitez's reign as Real Madrid manager got off to a disappointing start in La Liga after his side were held to a frustrating goalless draw against newly-promoted Sporting Gijon.

Having scored just 11 goals in eight pre-season games, Real fired blanks again and slipped two points behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid after the first round of matches in La Liga. 

It was Benitez' first game back in Spanish football 11 years after he left Valencia for Liverpool. The result means he matches Jose Mourinho’s first game in charge at Madrid – he also opened with a goalless draw away from home in 2010.

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Cristiano Ronaldo vents his frustration after having a penalty appeal turned down in the first half of his side's draw with Sporting Gijon 

Cristiano Ronaldo vents his frustration after having a penalty appeal turned down in the first half of his side's draw with Sporting Gijon 

Real Madrid star Gareth Bale went close to opening the scoring for the La Liga side but he failed to test Sporting Gijon keeper Ivan Cuellar

Real Madrid star Gareth Bale went close to opening the scoring for the La Liga side but he failed to test Sporting Gijon keeper Ivan Cuellar

Former Manchester United star Ronaldo tries an audacious overhead kick during his side's goalless draw on Saturday evening

Former Manchester United star Ronaldo tries an audacious overhead kick during his side's goalless draw on Saturday evening

Former Tottenham winger Bale (left) goes on the attack down the wing for Madrid and avoids the challenge of Bernardo

Former Tottenham winger Bale (left) goes on the attack down the wing for Madrid and avoids the challenge of Bernardo

Real Madrid defender Danilo (right), making his first La Liga appearance for the club, competes for the ball with Miguel Angel Guerrero

Real Madrid defender Danilo (right), making his first La Liga appearance for the club, competes for the ball with Miguel Angel Guerrero

Madrid manager Rafa Benitez, pictured gesturing before kick-off at El Molinon stadium, was taking charge of his first league match

Madrid manager Rafa Benitez, pictured gesturing before kick-off at El Molinon stadium, was taking charge of his first league match

The former Liverpool manager, who guided the Reds to Champions League glory, replaced Carlo Ancelotti in the summer

The former Liverpool manager, who guided the Reds to Champions League glory, replaced Carlo Ancelotti in the summer

Real Madrid's record signing Bale vents his frustration again after the winger missed another opportunity to break the deadlock 

Real Madrid's record signing Bale vents his frustration again after the winger missed another opportunity to break the deadlock 

MATCH FACTS 

SPORTING GIJON: Cuellar, Lora, Hernandez, Espinosa Zuniga, Lopez Blanco, Carmona (Ait Atmane 86), Alvarez Diaz, Cases Mora, Rodriguez Menendez (Menendez Diez 77), Guerrero (Muniz 72), Sanabria

Subs not used: Garcia Cabrera, Castro Garcia, Perez Rodriguez, Mere 

Booked: Carmona, Alvarez Diaz, Cases Mora, Rodriguez Menendez 

REAL MADRID: Navas, Danilo (Carvajal 84), Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Isco (Kovacic 71), Bale, Ronaldo, Jese (James 56)

Subs not used: Pepe, Nacho, Casilla Cortes, Casemiro 

Referee: Javier Estrada Fernández

Attendance: 28,105 

Benitez will point to the absence of the injured Karim Benzema but to have presided over five matches since the start of the summer in which Madrid have failed to score will be a concern.

Gareth Bale was Real’s best player in the opening 45 minutes, shooting into the side netting after racing away from the Sporting defence on to a pass from Luka Modric with Real's best early chance. Bale then got away down the left again and crossed but Jese was unable to finish.

The Welshman had started the game in the number 10 position but had drifted out to the left and with space to run into was causing Sporting Gijon plenty of early problems.

Despite the threat he carried, the game had little goal-mouth action but game could easily have had two before half-time with a chance at both ends within the space of 60 seconds.

First Paraguayan striker Antonio Sanabria thundered a header against the crossbar. The ball came down once and bounced out back into play. Replays from behind the goal appeared to show it had crossed Keylor Navas' line while others suggested the whole of the ball had not crossed the line. 

With no technology in place in La Liga to make the referee’s mind up for him, play continued and Madrid immediately thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Ronaldo tangled with Sergio Alvarez in the area. Again the referee decided not to give the attacking team the advantage.

The second half started at the same pace with Isco shooting on target and Carlos Carmona heading just wide after a mistake by Rafael Varane had allowed Sporting to cross from left.

Bale then won a free-kick on the edge of the area and took it himself but bent it over the wall and Ivan Cuellar’s bar. Then Varane headed a corner straight at Sporting’s goalkeeper.

After James Rodriguez replaced Jese he sent a perfect cross towards the head of Cristiano Ronaldo but Sporting defender Ivan Hernandez got the slightest of touches and it was enough to divert the ball beyond Real Madrid’s number seven. 

Bale continues to put pressure on a stubborn Sporting Gijon defence - and this time he tries to break the deadlock using his head

Bale continues to put pressure on a stubborn Sporting Gijon defence - and this time he tries to break the deadlock using his head

Wales star Bale latches onto a long ball but his connection is weak and he fails to test Ivan Cuellar in the Sporting Gijon goal

Wales star Bale latches onto a long ball but his connection is weak and he fails to test Ivan Cuellar in the Sporting Gijon goal

Portugal star Ronaldo challenges in the air during his side's opening La Liga fixture of the new season, which they eventually drew

Portugal star Ronaldo challenges in the air during his side's opening La Liga fixture of the new season, which they eventually drew

Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Isco (centre) tries to latch onto a hopeful cross into the box but Cuellar easily collects the ball

Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Isco (centre) tries to latch onto a hopeful cross into the box but Cuellar easily collects the ball

DULL REAL MADRID? 

Real Madrid failed to score in four out of their eight summer pre-season games.

Roma 0-0 Real Madrid, Melbourne

Real Madrid 0-0 AC Milan, Shanghai

Bayern Munich 1-0 Real Madrid, Munich

Valerenga 0-0 Real Madrid, Oslo 

Rodriguez then forced Cuellar’s into another save down to his right – the Colombian had given Real Madrid a different dimension since coming on and his introduction had pushed Ronaldo into a more central position. 

From there the Portuguese failed to connect Danilo’s cross with the goal at his mercy. To Ronaldo's relief, the offside flag was raised meaning the goal would not have counted.

With ten minutes left Madrid were now camped in Sporting’s area. The newly-promoted side were hanging on with tired legs and no out-ball. There still seemed to be a certain inevitability about Real breaking the deadlock but somehow the first goal of the Benitiez era did not come.

The Real Madrid striker who scored 61 times last season had another chance to get off the mark but from a deep cross from the right he headed well over Cuellar’s bar. 

With Real's last opportunity Ronaldo fired a free-kick into the Sporting wall. They deserved their point... Real are already two behind their big La Liga rivals.

Brazil international Marcelo takes a tumble after the Madrid left-back was caught from behind by Sporting's Carmona

Brazil international Marcelo takes a tumble after the Madrid left-back was caught from behind by Sporting's Carmona

World Cup winner Toni Kroos puts pressure on Sporting Gijon's Antonio Sanabria during their La Liga opener at the El Molinon stadium

World Cup winner Toni Kroos puts pressure on Sporting Gijon's Antonio Sanabria during their La Liga opener at the El Molinon stadium

With the scores goalless, Isco goes on the attack for the La Liga giants but is blocked by Luis Hernandez's challenge

With the scores goalless, Isco goes on the attack for the La Liga giants but is blocked by Luis Hernandez's challenge

Bale, who was criticised by the Spanish media and Madrid fans last season, takes on Sergio Alvarez El Molinon stadium

Bale, who was criticised by the Spanish media and Madrid fans last season, takes on Sergio Alvarez El Molinon stadium

It was a frustrating evening for Madrid and Bale lies on the pitch after the La Liga side missed yet another chance to score

It was a frustrating evening for Madrid and Bale lies on the pitch after the La Liga side missed yet another chance to score

Sporting Gijon's coach Abelardo Fernandez (left) celebrates their result after holding La Liga giants Madrid to a goalless draw

Sporting Gijon's coach Abelardo Fernandez (left) celebrates their result after holding La Liga giants Madrid to a goalless draw

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