Real Madrid left it late to snatch all three points on Saturday afternoon, beating Elche 2-1 with a last-minute winner in the Spanish capital.
Los Blancos were far from their best in the first half, creating only a handful of half-chances, and rarely forced Elche goalkeeper Edgar Badia into any meaningful action.
Karim Benzema almost broke the deadlock early in the second half, showing some exquisite control to bring the ball down and fire towards goal on the turn, but his shot hit the side-netting. Elche squandered a great chance on 58 minutes, but they did make a shock breakthrough three minutes later when Dani Calvo powered a header in off the underside of the crossbar.
And the Frenchman saved Zinedine Zidane’s blushes in injury time, rifling a brilliant volley into the bottom corner to clinch all three points for the under-par hosts.
RIght, let’s get on with Real’s player ratings.
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 7/10 – Produced a huge reflex save on the hour mark to keep Elche at bay from six yards. No chance in stopping Calvo’s powered header.
Raphael Varane (CB) – 5/10 – Beaten all ends up by Calvo on the corner, allowing him a free header and run at the ball. Shocking marking and basic, basic stuff.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – 6/10 – Felt he was fouled at a corner and demanded a penalty, though it was hard to tell whether the Spaniard had a case. A touch fortunate not to concede one of his own soon after, and was subbed immediately after Elche’s opener.
Nacho (CB) – 6/10 – A pretty average, standard performance from Nacho, who didn’t really do much wrong. Perhaps a touch unnecessary to have three centre-backs for this one.
Lucas Vazquez (RWB) – 6/10 – Still not entirely sure what Lucas Vazquez is truly good at? Lots of energy, but final ball? Meh. Defensive work? Meh. Ability to beat a man? Meh. You get the picture.
Federico Valverde (CM) – 5/10 – Offered so little to the side going forward, and couldn’t add any tempo to their play. Hooked as Zidane went for broke with half an hour to play.
Casemiro (CDM) – 6/10 – An aerial threat on set pieces, as is so often the case. Far too weak when collapsing to the floor on a corner, and Elche punished him and Madrid.
Isco (CM) – 5/10 – Seems to have lost that spark which made him so special. Every street quickly closes into a cul-de-sac, and he was slow on the ball.
Ferland Mendy (LWB) – 6/10 – Almost cost his team when a stray touch cannoned the ball back into the box. Couldn’t make any inroads on that left flank and was generally quite poor.
Karim Benzema (ST) – 9/10 – Dragged a lifeless Madrid back into the game with a strong downward header, before completing the comeback with a sublime volley in injury time. World class.
Vinicius Jr (ST) – 5/10 – Couldn’t scare one of the worst defences in Spain, and was subbed with the visitors chasing the game. Telling.
Rodrygo (RW) – 7/10 – Didn’t really impact the game from the bench until he assisted Benzema. Still, that’s why he came on, right?
Luka Modric (CM) – 7/10 – Still going strong, adding a bit more zip and life to Real’s play when he came on. Assist in the bag to cap a decent cameo.
Toni Kroos (CM) – 6/10
Eden Hazard (LW) – 6/10