Real Madrid were rescued by Cristiano Ronaldo’s first league goal of the season on Saturday afternoon, having looked like falling yet more points behind leaders Barcelona.
Los Blancos entered the game needing all three points to make up the lost ground after their stuttering start to the season, while 12th place Getafe were looking to contain the Spanish champions in the hope that they would escape with at least a point.
Neither team could really make a mark on the game in the opening 20 minutes, with slow build-ups and cagey wing play characterising the opening segments. Real’s injury stricken team seemed to be hesitant to push forward in their usual manner, with a number of key names missing from the starting eleven.
However, the champions started to assert their presence on the home team as full-backs Marcelo and 18 year-old Hakimi pushed forward on the flanks, allowing Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez to come inside.
This proved difficult for Getafe to cope with, as Vazquez fizzed in a low cross to Karim Benzema, but the Frenchman’s audacious flick failed to open the scoring with the first chance of the match. Getafe’s best chance of the half came when frontman Molina snuck in front of Kiko Casilla as a cross came in, only to turn his header over the bar.
It wasn’t until five minutes before the break when Los Blancos opened the scoring, courtesy of Benzema’s first goal of the season. After a period of mounting pressure, Real finally broke through after a mistake in midfield allowed Benzema to slip in behind the defence, beat Juan Cala, and unleash a clinical finish past Guaita in the Getafe goal.
The second half started much like the first, with both teams failing to find a clear way through. Marcelo had an early chance just five minutes in, when his curling effort was prevented from finding the top corner.
However, Real’s early pressure was quickly snuffed out when Getafe captain Molina connected with a low cross to give the home side the equaliser. This set the tone for the remainder of the half as Getafe started to make their presence felt. Real Madrid’s frontmen Benzema and Ronaldo were kept quiet until the final third of the game, in which Getafe’s impressive defensive display seemed to weaken as they tired from the constant pressure.
With fifteen minutes left, current world player of the year Ronaldo somehow failed to convert a golden opportunity from three years out, skewing his half volley the wrong side of the post.
However, this almost seemed to propel him back into the game, and with five minutes remaining, the Portuguese captain found the far corner of Guaita’s net with a powerful half-volley to finally open his account for this Primera Division season.
Despite the home side’s impressive resilience, they were unlucky not to come away with a point against a Real Madrid side who looked somewhat lacklustre as their injury crisis continues. Zidane and his players will be delighted with the three points however, and Ronaldo’s late winner could prove vital in the season ahead.