MADRID: Villarreal squandered an opportunity to climb above Real Madrid in La Liga, for a few hours at least, as they lost 2-1 at home to Alaves on Saturday.
The visitors were seeking to continue their improvement since former Barcelona and Spain defender Abelardo was appointed coach in December. They went in front six minutes before half-time when Alfonso Pedraza returned the ball into the box and Rodrigo Ely nodded home.
Pedraza, who is on loan from Villarreal, missed a glorious chance to double the away side's lead early in the second half. However, John Guidetti set up substitute Ibai Gomez to make it 2-0 in the 71st minute.
Carlos Bacca pulled one back for the hosts at the Estadio de la Ceramica with the aid of a huge deflection, but Villarreal could not find an equaliser, with Enes Unal hitting the bar late on.
Villarreal's second straight defeat leaves them fifth in the table, two points behind Real Madrid in fourth, having played two games more.
Zinedine Zidane's side entertain Real Sociedad later on Saturday.
Villarreal face Lyon in the Europa League next week.