Real Madrid returned to winning ways against Alavés on Saturday thanks to an impressive brace from Dani Ceballos, who found himself on the score-sheet for the first time in his Los Blancos career.
Despite sitting at the bottom of the La Liga table, the home side proved to be no easy feat as they notched their first goal of the season from a thunderous header by Manu Garcia, as they ensured the Spanish champions found it hard to control much of the games proceedings.
Real Madrid settled into possession early at the Mendizorroza as they looked to bounce back from a poor run of form against an Alavés side who had yet to score a single league goal this season.
However, despite a half-chance coming the way of Cristiano Ronaldo inside the first few minutes, it was the home side who came close to breaking the deadlock early as Munir threatened to run in behind the Los Blancos back-line, which was quickly backed up by two dangerous crosses which threatened to undo the unorganised back-line of Real Madrid.
But, as we know you can’t keep a top team down for long, just as Real Madrid appeared largely lacklustre inside the first ten minutes a special effort from Dani Ceballos who, had found space in the box, dispatched a right footed shot into the bottom left corner to give the visitors an early lead – his first goal for Real Madrid in his first starting appearance.
Despite the set-back Alavés continued to commit players in the final third and take the game to the Whites, which allowed Real Madrid to absorb the pressure and look to counter-attack, a strategy which they seemingly had no qualms about executing as Zinedine Zidane’s side seemed to have moved up a gear half-way through the first period.
The visitors tested the resolve of the Alavés’ stopper in back-to-back corners, where a close-range headed effort from Nacho had to be superbly tipped over the bar by Pacheco to ensure the deficit remained as one.
Not to be disheartened Alavés continued to hold their own despite Madrid dominating possession, offering a real threat moving forward which they finally made count when they notched their first goal of their La Liga season when Garcia blasted a thumping header beyond a hapless Keylor Navas.
The ecstasy and party atmosphere was quickly put to an end however, as Ceballos restored Real Madrid’s lead a mere three minutes later after a weak clearance from stopper Pacheco fell straight into his path, where his first time strike found the bottom right corner with little trouble – ensuring Zidane’s side took a 2-1 lead into the break.
A bright start to the second half offered chances for both sides as an early cross into the box from the home side required the intervention of Navas to catch the incoming header, whilst the other end saw Ronaldo scuff a volley which clipped the outside of the left upright.
As both side’s traded blows in midfield clear-cut chances were momentarily hard to come by, but a superb reading of the offside trap allowed Isco to charge into the opposition’s box unmarked but an untimely slip ensured his strike was saved by the legs of Pacheco – a real let off for Alavés.
Desperate to get on the score-sheet Ronaldo freed himself up in the box and unleashed a stunning strike from the right sight of the penalty area which looked bound for the back of the net, but it once again found the left upright with the rebound unable to be capitalised on as Alavés cleared their lines.
Just as Real Madrid looked to be pulling away and asserting themselves in the game, the home side almost levelled the scores on two occasions through Pedraza, the first coming when his effort agonisingly hit the crossbar, and the second a toe-poke beyond Navas which found the left upright – a game of small margins.
Chances to extend their lead continued to fall for Real Madrid as the game came to a close, but none were taken advantage of as Ceballos’s brace ultimately proved to be the difference.
The win against Alavés restores Real Madrid back onto the winners list and sends them into fourth position in the table, four points off leaders Barcelona, with their next league fixture coming against Espanyol next Sunday.
Despite scoring their first goal of the season, Alavés remain on the hunt for their first points in La Liga with their next chance now coming against fifth-placed Levante on Saturday.