Real Madrid left it very late to bag all three points against Huesca, as a Karim Benzema stunner in the dying moments fired them to a 3-2 win.
Real Madrid bounced back from being a goal down to defeat bottom feeders SD Huesca 3-2 in matchweek 29 of the La Liga at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night.
Manager Zinedine Zidane had made a number of tweaks to the starting lineup, including handing his son Luca a start in goal, while Brahim Diaz and Marcos Llorente also started. Things did not begin all too well for Real Madrid as Huesca took a surprise lead just three minutes into the game through Cucho Hernandez.
The home team struck back in the 25th minute as a Karim Benzema strike was parried into the path of Brahim Diaz, who in turn found Isco and the Spanish playmaker made no mistake. Huesca continued to cause problems, but couldn’t find a way through and it was Madrid who took the lead in the 62nd minute when Benzema nodded a Gareth Bale cross into Dani Ceballos’ path for the Spaniard to tap home.
Huesca fought their way back into the game as Xabier Etxeita headed home a Moi Gomez cross in the 74th minute to restore parity. And just when it seemed the like the spoils would be shared, Benzema turned saviour for Real Madrid, unleashing a brilliant curling effort from the edge of the box in the dying embers of the game to seal a victory.
— Real Madrid C.F. ???? (@realmadriden) March 31, 2019
The win means Real Madrid continue to stay two points behind second-placed Atletico Madrid. Here’s how Zinedine Zidane’s stars fared on Sunday night against the bottom side;
Luca Zidane: 6/10
In what was a surprise selection, the 20-year-old was handed a start in goal by Zidane ahead of Keylor Navas. Not a lot he could have done about either Huesca goals. Wasn’t tested much otherwise on just his second senior appearance.
Alvaro Odriozola: 6.5/10
The Spaniard offered a constant outlet down the right-hand side with his energetic forward forays and created a couple of decent opportunities as well. Was guilty of leaving open spaces behind however, although the visitors failed to capitalize on it.
Starting in place of first-choice defender Raphael Varane, the Spanish international failed to convince. Was guilty of getting beaten very easily in the build-up to Huesca’s first goal and then failed to mark Etxeita for the second goal.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
Not the most effective of displays from the Real Madrid captain as the home team found it difficult at times to cope with the two Huesca strikers. Did bail his team out in a couple of difficult moments in the first period and was often found shouting out orders to his teammates to keep things organized.
After an impressive performance last time out, the Brazilian was back to his recent struggling ways as he found it difficult to keep up with the pacey Huesca attackers time and again. Lost the ball in the lead-up to the visitors’ first goal and kept losing the ball in dangerous areas, leading to some harsh words from Ramos at one point. An extra mark for the assist for the winning goal.
Dani Ceballos: 6.5/10
Given a chance to stake a claim for more regular playing time, the Spaniard did not make the best of impressions. Wasn’t able to spark attacks from the middle of the park, while he also kept conceding possession more than his manager would have liked. Did well to get into a dangerous position and score the second goal, but needs to do more.
Marcos Llorente: 7/10
Back from injury, the Spaniard was thrust right back into the starting XI in place of Casemiro, and he justified his selection with a solid enough display. Made the most number of tackles and interceptions on the night to keep Huesca in check, although he did fail to stop them from breaking at times. Replaced by Mariano as Madrid looked for the winner.
Another promising display from the Spanish playmaker since being reinstated into the team by Zidane. Was one of Real Madrid’s better players in the first period as he looked to drive his team forward from the middle and was at the right place at the right time to score the equalizing goal. Not quite at his best, as he kept losing the ball, but encouraging signs for Real Madrid.
Brahim Diaz: 7.5/10
Making his first league start for Real Madrid, the January arrival was a huge positive for Zidane on Sunday night. Full of positive intent, Brahim Diaz linked up well with Benzema and Isco in the first half and set up the latter for the Merengues’ first goal. Seemed to have picked up a knock and was replaced after the hour mark. A confident display.
Karim Benzema: 8.5/10
The Frenchman didn’t always get the service in the final third for most periods of the game but that did not stop him from making a vital contribution to the win. Was involved in the first goal as it was his shot that was parried into Brahim’s path before he set Isco up. Benzema then created the second for Ceballos with a clever header before sealing the win with a stunning curler.
Gareth Bale: 6/10
The Welsh attacker was hardly involved in the first half, but improved drastically after the break. Found Benzema with a sensational outside-of-the-boot cross in the lead-up to Real Madrid’s second goal and was then involved in the buildup to the third goal as well. Needs to add the element of consistency to his game.
Lucas Vazquez: 6.5/10
Came on for a tired-looking Brahim Diaz a little after the hour mark. Worked hard on his return from injury, combined well with Benzema and did test the opposition keeper on one occasion.
Federico Valverde: 6/10
Replaced Isco in the 74th minute. Did the defensive duties well although failed to help out much in attack.
Mariano Diaz: N/A
Thrown on in place of Llorente with a little over ten minutes left. Failed to influence the game much, although did test the Huesca goalkeeper with a shot late in stoppage time.