Real Madrid Are Back On Track.. But Zidane Must Avoid Complacency
A late brace from Marcelo was all it took for Zinedine Zidane’s men to keep the title race buzzing as they fought hard for the win.
Real have one hand on the La Liga trophy as they are level on points with leaders Barcelona, but the Los Blancos also have a game in hand.
Zidane and company are looking to end a league title drought – having last won the Spanish top-flight in 2012 under Jose Mourinho.
Zinedine Zidane’s side know they will be champions if they win their remaining matches of the season and, perhaps with the exception of James Rodriguez in for Isco, the Frenchman played his strongest available 11, despite next Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal against Atletico Madrid.
Valencia could have taken the lead in the first minute after Santi Mira got onto a poor header from Sergio Ramos, only for Keylor Navas to save his first effort, before he hit the rebound onto the post.
Karim Benzema produced two routine saves from Valencia keeper Diego Alves, before Madrid took the lead in the 27th minute.
Dani Carvajal found space to cross from the right and Cristiano Ronaldo nipped in between the defenders to flick the ball into the Valencia goal.
The home side were pressuring high up the field and forcing errors from Valencia and it was not into last minute of the half that the visitors were able to string a move together, which ended with Munir firing over.
Ronaldo should have doubled Madrid’s lead from the penalty spot just 10 minutes after the break, moments after Benzema had been unlucky to hit the post with a curling shot. As the move continued Dani Parejo was judged to have held back Modric, giving Ronaldo the chance for his second of the game.
The striker hit the ball to Alves’ left, but the keeper saved well to save the 26th penalty from the 53 he has faced in LaLiga; a quite extraordinary record.
Valencia were seeing more of the ball, but failing to put Navas under any significant pressure until the 83rd minute when Parejo equalized with a free kick into the top corner of the net
It looked as if Madrid were going to drop two valuable points in the title race, but with four minutes left, Marcelo was able to cut in from the left to beat Alves with a right foot shot and ensure three vital points.