A defiant Rafa Benitez refused to concede the title after his Real Madrid side were beaten 1-0 by Villarreal at Estadio El Madrigal on Sunday.

A 9th minute strike from former Real Madrid striker Roberto Soldado condemned Real Madrid to their third defeat in five matches and leave them 5 points adrift of joint league leaders FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

In October, the Los Blancos suffered back to back defeats when they were beaten 3-2 by Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and humbled 4-0 by bitter rivals FC Barcelona at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Sunday’s defeat to Villarreal heaps more pressure on Real Madrid’s embattled manager Rafa Benitez, who is facing increased criticism from all quarters following his side’s disoriented displays in recent weeks.

Rafa Benitez defiant in the face of mounting criticism

Speaking to the media after the match, Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez blamed his side’s first half performance for Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss to Villarreal on Sunday night.

“It’s a league season in which teams are going to drop points,” said Benitez (via ESPNFC . ). “All the teams at the top are going to drop points.

“To challenge for the title you have to win a lot of games and these types of matches, with the favourable situation that existed before kickoff, are there for us to really lay down our title intentions.

“It’s difficult to explain, but these things sometimes happen. I’m not happy at all with the first half. In the first half we didn’t play well. I expected the team to play the way it did in the second.

“In the second half we didn’t take our chances, but we did what we should have done from the start.

“The reaction the team produced in the second half is the way forward and the one positive I can come away with, but we reacted late and it has cost us three points.”

Real Madrid need to sack Rafa Benitez to arrest their alarming collapse down the La Liga table

Three defeats in their last five matches in the league has left Rafa Benitez’s Real Madrid side 5 points adrift of the Liga summit. But perhaps what is more alarming is the manner of the defeats suffered by the 10 time European champions against some of the stronger sides in the league.

Real Madrid’s Clasico capitulation against FC Barcelona was sandwiched between their losses to Sevilla and Villarreal. Even before Real Madrid’s loss to Sevilla in early October, Benitez was criticized by some sections in the media for his pragmatic style of football management.

The latest defeat to Villarreal might spell the end for Rafa Benitez’s brief yet tumultuous stay at the Santiago Bernabeu. Rafa Benitez is indeed on borrowed time.