Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior made the difference as Real Madrid clinched a hard-fought 3-0 win over RCD Mallorca on Monday.
The first half was an engaging affair, as even though Real Madrid dominated the proceedings and created a few half-chances, Mallorca took the game to the visitors whenever the opportunities presented themselves.
While Sergio Rico denied Karim Benzema for Los Blancos’ best chance of the opening period, Pablo Maffeo inexplicably squandered a superb opening at the other end to put the hosts in front. After the break, it was all Real Madrid, who broke the deadlock just ten minutes into the second half, as Vinicius Jr. scored from close range after receiving the ball from Benzema.
Real Madrid continued to push forward for more goals but had to wait until the 77th minute to double their advantage. Karim Benzema converted from the spot after Brian Olivan brought Vinicius Jr. down inside the Mallorca box. And Benzema completed his brace five minutes later, nodding in a delectable cross from Marcelo to round off the win.
The result has helped Real Madrid take a step towards reclaiming the La Liga title, having opened up a ten-point lead over Sevilla, with only ten games left in the season. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 6/10
Courtois did not have much to do, even though Mallorca took the game to Real Madrid, with the hosts squandering a couple of glorious opportunities to score. In the end, the Belgian international retained a clean sheet, giving himself a good chance to win the Zamora Trophy again.
— Real Madrid C.F. ???? (@realmadriden) March 14, 2022
Lucas Vazquez: 7/10
Lucas Vazquez had a busy evening at the Visit Mallorca Stadium, as he had Takefusa Kubo to keep quiet. The Spaniard did not always flourish, but he came through largely unscathed, making some big tackles to keep the Real Madrid loanee quiet. He also linked up well with Rodrygo Goes moving forward, but that did not yield much.
Nacho produced a colossal performance at the heart of the Real Madrid defence, making a few crucial defensive interventions to help his side keep a clean sheet. The Spanish international notably made a big tackle in the first half to stop Mallorca from scoring. There were some wasteful moments on the ball, but that was the only minor negative for him.
David Alaba: 7/10
Alaba had a couple of hairy moments, notably when he failed to clear a cross in the first half. But the Austrian defender was largely solid at the back, making a few important interceptions and clearances to help Real Madrid keep a clean sheet. And as ever, Alaba played the ball out from the back smartly, misplacing just three passes.
Ferland Mendy: 5/10
Mendy endured a game to forget, as even though he was a constant outlet down the left flank, he carried no threat whatsoever. While the Frenchman misplaced just two passes, he should have done better when linking up with Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema. With his Real Madrid future up in the air, Mendy needs to step up in the coming weeks and months.
Federico Valverde: 7/10
??? @fedeevalverde: "Hello madridistas! I hope you enjoyed the match, and that you're happy about the win. Thanks for your support as always. We're going to keep fighting for the league. Let's do this! Hala Madrid!" pic.twitter.com/l8I06r6xcs
— Real Madrid C.F. ???? (@realmadriden) March 14, 2022
Valverde took his opportunity in the starting lineup well, robbing the ball close to the Mallorca box before finding Benzema in the build-up to the opener, which Vinicius Jr. scored. Other than that one moment, the Uruguayan international was thoroughly professional in his display, although there were one or two hairy moments off the ball.
Despite the threat of suspension ahead of Sunday’s El Clasico looming over him, Casemiro was his usual self, getting stuck in by making some crucial challenges. But Ancelotti rightly took him off with half an hour left, ensuring the Brazilian did not cop a booking ahead of the big game this coming weekend.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
Kroos was exceptional as ever in his usage of the ball, completing 93 per cent of his attempted passes. While the German international was not at his creative best, he ensured Real Madrid remained in control for most of the proceedings. He also put in the hard yards off the ball, completing four tackles while winning six duels.
Rodrygo Goes: 5/10
Rodrygo Goes endured a game to forget, as he was careless with the ball at his feet, completing 68 per cent of his attempted passes while losing possession a staggering 16 times. He did not even muster up a shot throughout his outing, and this was a major opportunity missed for him.
Karim Benzema: 9/10
Karim Benzema has surpassed Thierry Henry to become the top French scorer in history for club and country (412) ? pic.twitter.com/1TrreZr1wN
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 14, 2022
Benzema continued to run riot on Monday, combining beautifully with Vinicius Jr. for the umpteenth time this season. The Real Madrid talisman set Vinicius up for the opener before the Brazilian won the penalty that he converted. Benzema saved the best for last, converting Marcelo’s cross to round off the win.
Vinicius Junior: 9/10
Vinicius Junior was the brightest spark in a testing first half for Real Madrid, as he did not shy away from taking on the Mallorca defenders and found ways to open up space. The Brazilian winger played a game-high five key passes and produced a smart ghosting run to convert Benzema’s lay off to net the opening goal. Vinicius also won the penalty that Benzema converted later in the game.
Vinicius Jr & Karim Benzema have combined for 11 La Liga + #UCL goals this season.
Unbelievable partnership. ???? pic.twitter.com/HRRMZOd9rr
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 14, 2022
Luka Modric: 6/10
Modric replaced Valverde with half an hour left in regulation time. And the Croat continued from where he left off against PSG, pulling the strings with ease while also putting in the hard yards off the ball.
Eduardo Camavinga: 6/10
Camavinga was the Player to Watch in our preview, but he got only half an hour to make an impression. The young Frenchman sat at the base of the midfield and got stuck in smartly, completing three tackles while winning five duels. He barely misplaced a pass either in what was a solid cameo.
Dani Carvajal: 5/10
Carvajal oddly spent more time in his own half than in the final third after replacing Lucas Vazquez. The Spaniard even made a ridiculous error but was not punished for it. His output on the ball left a lot to be desired, as he misplaced half of his passes.
Marco Asensio: 6/10
Asensio replaced Rodrygo with twenty minutes left in the game. But the former Mallorca forward barely did anything of note in his cameo, missing the opportunity to stake claim to the right-wing berth for good.
Marcelo did not see much of the ball after his late introduction. But he still had enough time to send in the cross that Benzema converted to round off the win for Real Madrid.