Spanish leaders Real Madrid were held 1-1 at home by defiant Villarreal on Wednesday as they failed to score a record 17th straight victory in La Liga.

After 16 wins, the Whites failed to better the mark of Barcelona from 2011, kept at bay by a solid Villarreal defence.

"It would have been great to have established a new record, but it's not easy to always win," Real right-back Dani Carvajal said.

"This wasn't our best performance of the season, but even so we could have won it at the end."

Veteran captain Bruno Soriano gave Villarreal the lead from a chipped penalty just before half-time, after a handball by Real defender Sergio Ramos.

Ramos made amends by heading in a corner from James Rodriguez three minutes after the restart, but Villarreal managed to hold out for the draw without too many scares.

"I think a draw is a fair result, on the balance. Both sides played well and created good chances," Villarreal's Soriano said.

Real are two points above second-placed Sevilla, who edged neighbours Real Betis 1-0 on Tuesday.

The Whites have 13 points from five games, Sevilla have 11. Then come Barcelona, Las Palmas on Villarreal and Atletico Madrid on eight.

Real went into the game with star strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale restored to fitness, but looked surprisingly sluggish and flat in attack.

Villarreal finally came out of their defensive shell and were rewarded with the penalty, which Soriano calmly transformed in Antonin Panenka 1976 style.

Real dominated the second half with their habitual power football, banging in centres for Ronaldo, Bale, Alvaro Morata and Ramos.

Ramos' equalizer seemed to be the prelude for yet another Real comeback - as against Sporting Gijon a week ago - but they lost left-back Marcelo to injury and failed to break down the well-ordered Villarreal defence for a second time.

Also Wednesday, Celta Vigo scored their first win, 2-1 at home to Sporting Gijon on goals from Hugo Mallo and Iago Aspas.

"It was about time that we finally won a game," Celta's Aspas said.

"Once again, we were too anxious tonight...But I think we just about deserved this, after all the hard work we put into the game."

Barca were to host Atletico and Las Palmas were to visit Real Sociedad later in the day, while Granada were to face Athletic Bilbao.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.