Rodrygo Goes scored a perfect hat-trick and Karim Benzema also hit a double as Real Madrid took a huge step towards reaching the Champions League last 16 with an emphatic 6-0 win over Galatasaray.

Eighteen-year-old Rodrygo netted twice in the first seven minutes at Santiago Bernabeu and later added a stoppage-time third as he became the youngest Brazilian to score in Europe's premier club competition.

Sergio Ramos' penalty had Madrid three up with the game effectively over after 14 minutes and Benzema scored in each half to reach 50 goals in the competition for Madrid, making him only the fourth player to achieve the feat for a single club.

After a poor start to their Group A campaign, Madrid are now five points clear of third-placed Club Brugge – who lost to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday - with two games to play, while Gala are out as a result of their chastening defeat.

Rodrygo's opener was impressive as he collected Marcelo's cross before cutting inside past Mario Lemina to send a fine left-footed finish into the far corner.

He doubled his tally when a mistake from Mariano gave Marcelo the chance to set up his compatriot again, the forward this time heading in a left-wing delivery from eight yards.

VAR ruled in Madrid's favour when Toni Kroos – who scored the only goal in the reverse fixture in Turkey a fortnight ago - complained he had been fouled by Steven Nzonzi right on the 18-yard line, Ramos beating Fernando Muslera with a cheeky Panenka from the resulting spot-kick.

Casemiro had a goal ruled out and Eden Hazard was denied by Muslera, but Benzema ensured it was four in the last minute of the first half with a simple finish, an assist from the impressive Rodrygo coming after a dreadful pass from Yuto Nagatomo put Gala in trouble.

After the break, Muslera denied Kroos before Christian Luyindama blocked Benzema's follow-up near the goal-line, with the goalkeeper again called into action to keep out substitute Isco from the resulting corner.

Thibaut Courtois thwarted Lemina at the other end, but Benzema struck again after 81 minutes, converting Dani Carvajal's cross from close range.

And Benzema turned provider two minutes into added time, his throughball cleverly finished by man-of-the-moment Rodrygo.

 

What does it mean? Madrid well placed after slow start

Madrid missed the chance to go top of LaLiga at the weekend with a poor home draw against Real Betis but after winning just four of their first nine games to start 2019-20, they would probably have taken being level on points with Barcelona and on the brink of a last-16 spot in Europe by early November. Rodrygo gives the Madrid fans something to get excited about, with a possible injury to Marcelo, who was taken off by Zinedine Zidane just before the interval, the only concern.

Rampant Rodrygo making his mark

It was only his fourth Madrid start, but Rodrygo already looks the part having become the second-youngest scorer of a Champions League hat-trick, behind Madrid legend Raul. The ex-Santos star took all three of his goals clinically and showed his creative ability with a clever delivery to set up Benzema's first goal. It was also a fine night for Benzema, whose strikes ended his four-match streak without scoring in Europe to reach the 50-goal milestone that had only previously been achieved by elite company in Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul.

Key errors cost woeful Gala

Gala are winless in 16 Champions League away games and the best they can now hope for is a Europa League spot. They are the first team in nine years to fail to score in six straight away games in the competition. While the latter stat is on their attacking and creative players, it was defensive mistakes which cost them dearly here, with Mariano, Nzonzi and Nagatomo all guilty of dreadful first-half errors.

What's next?

Madrid are at Eibar in LaLiga on Saturday, with a home game against Paris Saint-Germain next up in this competition on November 26. Gala are away to Gaziantep on domestic business before hosting Club Brugge next in Europe in a key match in the battle to finish third.

Rodrygo Goes scored a perfect hat-trick and Karim Benzema also hit a double as Real Madrid took a huge step towards reaching the Champions League last 16 with an emphatic 6-0 win over Galatasaray.

Eighteen-year-old Rodrygo netted twice in the first seven minutes at Santiago Bernabeu and later added a stoppage-time third as he became the youngest Brazilian to score in Europe's premier club competition.

Sergio Ramos' penalty had Madrid three up with the game effectively over after 14 minutes and Benzema scored in each half to reach 50 goals in the competition for Madrid, making him only the fourth player to achieve the feat for a single club.

After a poor start to their Group A campaign, Madrid are now five points clear of third-placed Club Brugge – who lost to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday - with two games to play, while Gala are out as a result of their chastening defeat.

Rodrygo's opener was impressive as he collected Marcelo's cross before cutting inside past Mario Lemina to send a fine left-footed finish into the far corner.

He doubled his tally when a mistake from Mariano gave Marcelo the chance to set up his compatriot again, the forward this time heading in a left-wing delivery from eight yards.

VAR ruled in Madrid's favour when Toni Kroos – who scored the only goal in the reverse fixture in Turkey a fortnight ago - complained he had been fouled by Steven Nzonzi right on the 18-yard line, Ramos beating Fernando Muslera with a cheeky Panenka from the resulting spot-kick.

Casemiro had a goal ruled out and Eden Hazard was denied by Muslera, but Benzema ensured it was four in the last minute of the first half with a simple finish, an assist from the impressive Rodrygo coming after a dreadful pass from Yuto Nagatomo put Gala in trouble.

After the break, Muslera denied Kroos before Christian Luyindama blocked Benzema's follow-up near the goal-line, with the goalkeeper again called into action to keep out substitute Isco from the resulting corner.

Thibaut Courtois thwarted Lemina at the other end, but Benzema struck again after 81 minutes, converting Dani Carvajal's cross from close range.

And Benzema turned provider two minutes into added time, his throughball cleverly finished by man-of-the-moment Rodrygo.

 

Aaron Ramsey scored a landmark goal for Juventus on Wednesday, as his opener against Lokomotiv Moscow marked the Serie A club's 300th in the Champions League.

Ramsey, making his first start since September, put Juve ahead three minutes into the Group D contest in Russia when he capitalised on a mistake from goalkeeper Guilherme, who had failed to keep out Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick.

Juve are the fifth team to reach 300 goals in the competition, joining Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United in an elite club.

The lead was short-lived for Maurizio Sarri's side, however, with Aleksey Miranchuk pulling Lokomotiv level with a deft header nine minutes later.

Cristiano Ronaldo is chasing another slice of history when Juventus travel to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Tottenham, meanwhile, will hope Harry Kane can continue his wonderful form in the competition against Red Star Belgrade, while Manchester City take on Atalanta at San Siro.

Elsewhere, Kylian Mbappe will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing Club Brugge again after he plundered a hat-trick against them two weeks ago.

Here is the pick of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's eight matches.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Club Brugge

4 - PSG forward Mbappe scored a hat-trick as a substitute against Brugge on matchday three, becoming only the fourth player to achieve the feat in the Champions League. In three games against Belgian opposition, Mbappe averages a goal or assist every 28 minutes.

2 - Emmanuel Dennis scored both of Brugge's goals in their previous Champions League away game against Real Madrid. No player has ever found the net in consecutive matches on the road for the Belgian side in the competition.

Real Madrid v Galatasaray

50 - Karim Benzema is just two Champions League goals short of his 50th for Madrid, with only Lionel Messi (113 for Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (105 for Madrid) and Raul (66 for Madrid) reaching the milestone for a single side. However, Benzema is without a goal in his past four matches in the competition, despite attempting 16 shots across those games.

5 - Galatasaray have failed to score in their past five away Champions League matches, despite attempting 45 shots in that timeframe. The last team to fail to score in six away games in a row were Schalke in November 2010.

Bayern Munich v Olympiacos

13 - Bayern have scored 13 goals after just three Champions League games this season. The only team with more after three games are Arsenal in 2010-11 (14 goals).

10 - Olympiacos have managed just 10 shots on target across their opening three Champions League matches this term – one fewer than Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski has attempted.

Red Star Belgrade v Tottenham

6 - Red Star's Marko Marin made six chances in their 5-0 defeat against Spurs on matchday three. No player has created more in the Champions League this season (13, level with Toni Kroos).

18 - Spurs striker Kane has scored 18 goals in just 22 Champions League appearances, including four in three appearances this season. In the history of the competition, the fewest number of matches needed to reach 20 goals is 26, set by Alessandro Del Piero in April 1998.

Atalanta v Manchester City

11 - Atalanta have conceded more Champions League goals than any other team this season (11). Only two teams have conceded more in their first three Champions League games – Slavia Prague (12) and Helsingborgs (13).

5 - Sergio Aguero has found the net in each of his past five away Champions League group stage matches for City (five goals), a run stretching back to September 2017.

Dinamo Zagreb v Shakhtar Donetsk

45 - Dinamo's Mislav Orsic is averaging a goal or assist every 45 minutes in the Champions League this season, scoring four and assisting one in just 227 minutes of action. Should Orsic notch in this game, he would have reached five goals in just four appearances, with only Erling Haaland and Didier Drogba having done so in fewer games (three).

22 - Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov has not kept a clean sheet in any of his past 22 Champions League starts. The last goalkeeper to go on a longer such run in the competition was Igor Akinfeev (43) between November 2006 and October 2017.

Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid

3 - Leverkusen are one of two clubs to lose their three Champions League games this season, along with Atalanta. They are the first German side to lose their opening three group stage matches since Stuttgart in 2007-08.

3 - Atletico have won three Champions League games against Bayer Leverkusen; they have only won more against PSV (four).

Lokomotiv Moscow v Juventus

9 - Lokomotiv striker Eder has been on the losing side in his each of his past nine Champions League starts, dating back to October 2012 for Braga. The last player to lose on 10 consecutive starts in the competition was Junior Fernandes (11) for Dinamo Zagreb, a run that ended in December 2016.

33 - Ronaldo had eight shots without scoring in Juve's 2-1 win over Lokomotiv on matchday three. Should he score in this match, he would break the record for opponents scored against in the Champions League, with Ronaldo currently level on 33 with Raul and Messi.

Zinedine Zidane wants Gareth Bale to remain a Real Madrid player for at least the rest of the campaign.

Bale was heavily linked with a move to Jiangsu Suning during the close season but the deal fell through and he remained at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Reports this week suggested Madrid will offer Manchester City £70million (€81m) and the 30-year-old in exchange for Raheem Sterling.

However, Zidane has no doubt Bale has an important role to play for Madrid beyond the January transfer window.

"I want Gareth to stay here until the end of the season," Zidane told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League home game against Galatasaray.

"People keep saying that I want him to leave in January, it's nonsense. Our fans have to think positively, as the player wants to be with us.

"He has returned here and wants to recover, but he simply hasn't recovered yet."

Bale has not featured for Madrid for a month, having sustained an injury during Wales' 1-1 draw with Croatia on October 13.

Despite that fact, Bale has been named in the Wales squad for crunch Euro 2020 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Hungary, with Ryan Giggs stating the winger had assured him he would arrive ready to play.

"He's not training normally, so we'll see on a day-to-day basis. His country has a right to pick him, it's a FIFA date so we can't do anything about that. But what the player wants is to be fit and ready," said Zidane.

"He's been back training in the last week and we'll see if he's ready to play for his national team, but the shame for us at the moment is he's not ready to play for us."

Zidane denied he has strained relationship with Bale, adding: "We say, 'Good morning' to each other every day.

"I love all my players. We can't all have the same close relationship but I've never had any problem with Gareth, even when there was talk of him leaving. I'm happy with him.

"You [the media] need to stop always saying the same thing or asking me about him leaving matches early, because I used to do the same.

"The important thing is that he was with the team before the match and at half-time to support them.

"You look for things that aren't there. He wants to see the team win, I have no doubts about that."

Zinedine Zidane is well aware Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe's "dream" is to play for Real Madrid.

Mbappe scored 33 goals in 29 Ligue 1 appearances for PSG in 2018-19 but stated during the close season he was open to "a new project".

Former Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev this week claimed the World Cup-winning attacker told him he moved to the French capital in 2017 because it was "too early" for him to make the switch to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Asked if he thinks Mbappe will play for Madrid in the future, Zidane told a news conference: "I don't know, it's the player who decides.

"At the moment he plays for Paris Saint-Germain, we'll see in the future if that changes. I know he always said his dream is to play for Real Madrid."

Madrid will meet PSG in their penultimate Champions League Group A game on November 26, but Thomas Tuchel's side could be out of reach in top spot by that point if they beat Club Brugge and Los Blancos draw with Galatasaray on Wednesday.

"We're always happy to play at home but there's a responsibility as well because it's a Champions League match and we want to play a good game and for that we have to be well prepared," Zidane said of Gala's impending visit.

"We always go into these games with the same idea, the same attitude. We're in good shape, we know what we have to do and I'm not too worried whether it's like a final or not.

"I think you just have to think about going out and playing a good game, hope the fans are with you and go out and try to win the game and hope everyone plays well.

"We always need the fans with us and I think they always are with us. They want to see their team play well and win and that's what we need, we need the fans to help us and be with us in the difficult moments of a match, that's what it's about.

"The other day [a 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis in LaLiga on Saturday] it was difficult for us to get a goal but we need the fans with us and the players need the fans with us."

Gareth Bale has been included in the Wales squad for their final two Euro 2020 qualifiers despite still being out of action for Real Madrid.

The 30-year-old winger continues to train alone in the Spanish capital but Ryan Giggs is preparing to gamble on his fitness for this month's make-or-break games against Azerbaijan and Hungary.

Bale has not played a minute for Madrid since limping through the final stages of Wales' 1-1 draw against Croatia on October 13.

Giggs said the suspected calf problem appeared to be cramp but Madrid have not confirmed the exact nature of the issue.

Wales are likely to need a maximum six points to have any chance of pipping Hungary, their opponents in Cardiff on November 19, to the second qualifying spot in Group E.

Up first is a trip to Baku to face bottom-placed Azerbaijan on November 16.

Aaron Ramsey could make his first appearance of the qualification campaign in that match after recently overcoming a thigh injury.

The midfielder appeared off the bench in a 1-0 win for Juventus over Torino on Saturday.

 

Wales squad in full:

Adam Davies, Wayne Hennessy, Danny Ward; Ben Davies, Chris Gunter, Tom Lockyer, Chris Mepham, James Lawrence, Regan Poole, Connor Roberts, Neil Taylor, Ashley Williams; Joe Allen, Ethan Ampadu, Dylan Levitt, Joe Morrell, Aaron Ramsey, Matthew Smith, Will Vaulks; Gareth Bale, Daniel James, Tom Lawrence, Rabbi Matondo, Kieffer Moore, Tyler Roberts, Sam Vokes, Harry Wilson.

 

Raheem Sterling dreams of playing abroad and could be about to get his wish.

Real Madrid reportedly want to sign the Manchester City star after succeeding in their attempts to lure Eden Hazard from Chelsea.

To make the deal happen, the Spanish giants are ready to send Gareth Bale back to the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – SANTIAGO BERNABEU CALLING FOR STERLING

China continues to loom as the likeliest escape route for Gareth Bale, but Real Madrid might just have a different destination in mind.

According to Sky Sports, Madrid are preparing to offer the Wales winger plus £70million in a bid to prise Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.

Whether the Premier League champions have any interest in 30-year-old Bale is another matter, while the long-term contract extension Sterling signed last November gives them a strong bargaining position.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh speculation linking Kylian Mbappe to Zinedine Zidane's Madrid will prompt Paris Saint-Germain to offer the France forward an enticing new deal worth around €40million per season, Le Parisien reports. Mbappe has just over two years left on his current contract.

PSG are not just busy attempting to tie down their own players. De Telegraaf claims the Ligue 1 champions are one of three clubs expressing interest in Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. Tottenham and Manchester United have also reportedly made contact with the 23-year-old's agent.

- Chelsea have identified several big-name January targets if their transfer ban is lifted at an appeal hearing later this month. Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and Lyon striker Moussa Dembele are the primary targets according to The Telegraph, which also lists Ben Chilwell and Nathan Ake among the names interesting Frank Lampard.

- Rade Krunic, one of AC Milan's better performers in the weekend loss to Lazio, will not be allowed to leave the club on loan, despite Bosnia and Herzegovina boss Robert Prosinecki advising him to seek more playing time. Calciomercato say the recent Rossoneri signing is part of Stefano Pioli's plans and will be staying put at San Siro.

The writing has long been on the wall for Gareth Bale.

Zinedine Zidane wanted him gone from Real Madrid before the previous transfer window closed, but a move did not materialise.

But as the January window approaches, Bale is reportedly ready to leave.

 

TOP STORY – GARETH WANTS TO BALE

Gareth Bale wants to leave Real Madrid in January amid links to the Chinese Super League, according to Cadena Ser.

Bale was poised to make a shock switch to China after being told to move on by Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, though the Welshman remained at the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Bale is reportedly desperate for a January exit and wants Madrid to listen to offers from the CSL.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has offered himself to former club Juventus. Bologna have confirmed their interest in the LA Galaxy striker, whose contract is set to expire. A-League team Perth Glory want to bring the 38-year-old to Australia. Ibrahimovic spent two years at Juventus, however, the Serie A champions are reportedly not prepared to bring back the veteran as they look to trim their squad in January.

Roma are close to reaching an agreement with Manchester United for on-loan defender Chris Smalling. Calciomercato reports the Serie A side are preparing to present a €17million (£14.6m) offer for the Englishman.

William Saliba is yet to play a match for Arsenal but he could already be on the move. Saliba signed for the Gunners in July before he was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 season. However, Defensa Central claims Real Madrid are eyeing the 18-year-old French defender. Monaco's Benoit Badiashile and Boubacar Kamara of Marseille are also on the list to potentially replace Raphael Varane.

- The Telegraph says Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is a target for clubs in the Chinese Super League and MLS. Lallana is out of contract at the end of the season.

Ronald Koeman dominates the frontpage of Monday's SPORT newspaper. The Netherlands boss is heavily linked to Barcelona having revealed a release clause in his contract, and amid growing pressure on head coach Ernesto Valverde .

- Former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta are among the candidates to replace Unai Emery should the Gunners sack the Spaniard, according to the Mirror. Allegri has also been linked to Bayern Munich and Manchester United, while Arteta is serving as Pep Guardiola's Manchester City assistant. Jose Mourinho has also reportedly emerged as an option.

Kylian Mbappe plans to join Real Madrid after turning down the chance during his time at Monaco, according to former vice-president Vadim Vasilyev.

Mbappe initially moved to Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain on loan from rivals Monaco in 2017 before making the transfer permanent in a €145million deal the following year.

Madrid were interested in Mbappe prior to the French sensation swapping Monaco for Paris, and the LaLiga powerhouse continue to be linked with the 20-year-old forward.

Vasilyev, who knows Mbappe well from their time together at Stade Louis II, believes the 2018 World Cup winner will eventually make the move to Madrid.

"Why did he not sign at Real?," Vasilyev told Telefoot. "He told me: 'Vadim, I think it's too early, I'm Parisian, I do not want to leave my country like that, I want to become a great player here. Real Madrid will wait, that's what I think'.

"I told him, 'Kylian, you're right'. He wants to win. And of course the Champions League must be won for a player like that. If he wins it with Paris, it's better."

Vasilyev added: "They [Real Madrid] will knock on your door. The entire Estadio Santiago Bernabeu will applaud you when you get there."

"He remains the same person, the same Kylian. It's just that he has gained importance, power in the global landscape," Vasilyev said.

"I know Cristiano Ronaldo quite well, and he always wants to break all records, go further. Kylian is the same."

Mbappe, who won the Ligue 1 title in his final season at Monaco, has flourished with PSG in the French capital.

He has claimed back-to-back Ligue 1 trophies, as well as Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions silverware.

After scoring 39 goals across all competitions in 2018-19, Mbappe has netted nine times for Thomas Tuchel's PSG this season.

Jose Mourinho has heaped praise on Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, saying the forward reminds him of the great Brazil striker Ronaldo.

Mbappe has scored seven goals in his past four matches for the Ligue 1 champion after a 2018-19 season in which he netted 39 times in all competitions for his club.

Manager Mourinho is a huge fan of the 20-year-old, already a World Cup winner and one of the brightest talents in football.

"The only player that comes to my mind and with who I can compare him is Ronaldo," Mourinho told Telefoot.

"I think they [Mbappe and Ronaldo] are players with unique qualities. If you play against him, he's scary."

Mbappe netted on Friday for PSG in a 2-1 defeat at Dijon.

Ronaldo, a two-time World Cup winner with Brazil, was a prolific goalscorer for PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid in a glittering career.

In addition to reminding him of the Brazilian, Mourinho also said that he was also impressed by Mbappe's character.

He added: "I spoke with Kylian for three minutes at the ceremony of the Ballon d'Or. 

"He speaks with everyone with a simplicity ... remarkable, classy."

Mbappe moved from Monaco to PSG in 2017, initially on loan. Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasyliev expects Mbappe to end up at Real Madrid, like Ronaldo.

Vasyliev told Telefoot that Mbappe said to him: "I want to become a great player here [France], Real will wait. But it will come."

Out of work and looking for a job – Massimiliano Allegri could be poised for a return to the dugout.

Allegri left Juventus at the end of 2018-19 after guiding the Old Lady to five consecutive Serie A titles.

The Italian coach has been linked to Manchester United but, with Niko Kovac on the brink at Bayern Munich, Allegri could find himself in Bavaria.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN GO FOR ALLEGRI

Bayern Munich want former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri to replace Niko Kovac, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Kovac is on the verge of being sacked after Bayern's humiliating 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, with the Bundesliga champions cancelling Sunday's public training session as pressure mounts.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax's Erik ten Hag have been linked but Bayern have reportedly identified the man to take over in Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror claims Manchester United are ready to hijack Liverpool's move for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. Champions League holders Liverpool have been linked to Werner, however, United want to bring the Germany international to Old Trafford in January.

Perth Glory are still optimistic they can lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Australia, reports The West Australian. After revealing an approach for Ibrahimovic on a guest-player contract, A-League side Perth have seen Serie A outfit Bologna confirm their interest in the 38-year-old striker ahead of the January transfer window. Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy contract will expire before the end of the year.

Tottenham are eyeing a January swoop for Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. With Hugo Lloris out injured, Spurs are on the lookout for a new keeper and £35million could see Eredivisie champions Ajax sell the Cameroon international.

- According to the Guardian, Arsenal have joined United and Juventus in the transfer chase for Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona have dropped their interest in Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. The Slovakia international has established himself as one of the best defenders in the world since joined Inter in 2017.

United and Paris Saint-Germain are leading the race to sign Juventus midfielder Emre Can, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Thibaut Courtois insists Real Madrid cannot pin the blame for their failure to beat Real Betis on the referee's decision not to award a penalty late on in Saturday's 0-0 draw.

Madrid were adamant they should have had a spot-kick when Karim Benzema's cross struck the arm of Betis defender Zouhair Feddal, who had slid in with his right hand trailing behind him.

Referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez consulted with VAR but did not go to a pitch-side monitor to check the decision himself, much to Madrid's chagrin.

Having been handed no reprieve by the officials, Madrid upped the pressure, but Joel Robles stood firm with two fine saves from Vinicius Junior, with earlier missed opportunities coming back to bite Los Blancos as Zinedine Zidane's side missed the chance to move top of LaLiga.

Courtois, however, did not entertain the possibility the referee was responsible, even though the Belgium international believes Madrid would have been worthy winners.

"It is not a penalty. The handballs in the [penalty] areas are very complicated," Courtois told reporters.

"It is not easy for referees and players to know when it is or not. We saw something, but we cannot protest something that no longer exists.

"I think in general we had a good game. We have created many chances. It is a shame, but we must continue. I think we played a game to win. You can't take anything away from Betis."

Zidane echoed Courtois' sentiment, claiming he could see little fault in his side's performance even though Madrid failed to capitalise on Barcelona's defeat to Levante and Atletico Madrid's draw with Sevilla.

"There was a handball, but the referee has decided it was otherwise. I don't get into referee issues. I saw the handball, but the referee's interpretation was different," Zidane told a news conference.

"The criteria for handball is clearly that of the referee because he has not consulted VAR. You have to respect what he says.

"At the level of play, intensity and attitude, everything was perfect. We were missing a goal. You cannot reproach anyone. We tried until the end.

"Everyone fails. It's going to be a very complicated league."

Sergio Ramos acknowledged Real Madrid wasted an opportunity to make a statement in LaLiga after their goalless draw with Real Betis.

Madrid would have moved top - clear of Barcelona by two points - with a victory on Saturday but failed to take their chances in a subdued encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Betis' Joel Robles made some fine saves late on, having initially denied Ramos an opener just before half-time, while Ferland Mendy also passed up a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock as Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw for the first time under Zinedine Zidane.

Captain Ramos insisted Los Blancos did all they could to carve out a lead but shrugged off the suggestion LaLiga's traditional big three of Madrid, Barca and Atletico Madrid are beginning to falter, despite all three sides failing to win on Saturday.

"Nothing's happening, that's just football, it's not easy," Ramos told Movistar. "Today, Levante beat Barcelona, you can't expect to win any game, whoever you're playing against.

"Our league is the best in the world, we're fortunate to be playing in it and we try to do our best.

"Today was a good opportunity to become the leaders, with the other results. We fought for the result from the first minute but couldn't take the goal.

"The attitude and work in defence was good. You have to give credit to Betis too, they're a team who like to keep the ball and play football, it's not easy.

"It's a bittersweet feeling to get just one point, we've lost an opportunity to go first and take the lead."

Betis' standout performer Robles, meanwhile, believes Saturday's draw - on the back of their victory over Celta Vigo - can provide the struggling Andalusian side with a much-needed morale boost after they lost four of their previous five LaLiga matches before Saturday.

"We are happy with the work of the boys, it gives confidence, it's a good point in a tough stadium to come to," said Robles.

"We're happy for the point and we needed to get one here. We need to get more confidence, we're still not at our highest level, but we're going to keep working.

"We were in a bad run, but we got the victory over Celta and now this result will give us confidence. We have to enjoy this point, rest and then in a week we have the derby."

Real Madrid failed to capitalise on Barcelona's slip-up as Zinedine Zidane's side were held to a 0-0 draw by Real Betis in LaLiga, with Ferland Mendy missing a glorious chance.

Three goals in the space of seven second-half minutes saw Levante defeat leaders Barca 3-1 earlier on Saturday, but Madrid offered little for much of the encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu as they failed to move above their bitter rivals.

Eden Hazard had an early goal disallowed by VAR, but instead of paving the way for a dominant Madrid display, Los Blancos were found lacking going forward, even if Joel Robles did make a fine save from Sergio Ramos just before the break.

Mendy should have made the breakthrough shortly after the hour, but an abysmal finish from the left-back summed up a frustrating outing for Madrid, who nevertheless moved level on points with Barca, though they trail on goal difference.

Hazard thought he had driven home his second LaLiga goal in the eighth minute, only for VAR to disallow his effort for offside.

Toni Kroos had Robles beaten with a free-kick soon after, though his effort sailed just wide, before Betis finally offered a threat - Nabil Fekir flashing an effort across the face of goal.

Madrid's opener looked set to come from an unlikely source when Karim Benzema teed up Ramos, but Robles stood his ground to make a fantastic stop, before Thibaut Courtois kept out Loren Moron's long-range strike at the other end.

A few moments after having a penalty appeal rightly turned down, Mendy raced through on Betis' goal but failed to keep his composure when one-on-one with Robles, slicing his attempt into the side-netting.

Zouhair Feddal wore a nervous expression when VAR went back to check a potential handball a little later, though Betis' luck was in - the video system deeming no offence had occurred.

Betis' defence was breached twice in quick succession in the final minutes, yet Robles again came to their rescue, thwarting Vinicius Junior a couple of times before Feddal hooked clear off the line, with Madrid forced to settle for a point.

What does it mean? LaLiga wide open

Madrid are now without a win over Betis in their last three home league matches against the Andalusian side, who had lost four of their past five LaLiga fixtures heading into Saturday's encounter.

With Barca going down at Levante and Atletico Madrid only managing to draw with Sevilla, who complete the top four, LaLiga is tight at the top, with no one possessing the consistency to nose themselves clear.

Robles stands firm

Until the closing stages, Betis' goalkeeper was not called into action as much as he might have expected, but when he was required, Robles stood up to the task, making a fantastic stop from Ramos' powerful close-range attempt.

While Robles - who claimed to lose a contact lens in a collision with Mendy - may have been unable to prevent Madrid's left-back opening the scoring had he kept his cool, the goalkeeper came up with the goods twice in quick succession in stoppage time to secure a well-earned point.

Hazard still not hitting his stride

Injuries have contributed to Hazard having a stuttering start to his Madrid career, but the Belgium star looks a shadow of his former self at the moment.

A flash of brilliance was evident when he skipped in from the byline to hammer in a low strike early on, but after VAR had chalked the goal off, Hazard was left on the fringes of Madrid's play far too often.

What's next?

Madrid welcome Galatasaray to the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League on Wednesday before travelling to Eibar in LaLiga three days later. As for Betis, it is the small matter of the Seville derby next Sunday.

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