Real Madrid 3-1 Eibar: Hazard impresses as Zidane's men make winning return
Real Madrid returned 3-1 to Eibar in the Spanish capital on Sunday.
Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo ensured a comfortable half-time tour in Madrid. The improvement in the second half brought only consolation to Pedro Bigas.
After Barcelona won 4-0 at Real Mallorca the day before, Los Blancos was under pressure to follow this example and close the gap at the top of the table with two points.
Madrid's home games are at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium in Castile, while the Santiago Bernabeu is being renovated. The change of venue made little difference, however, as the home team won Zinedine Zidane's 200th game.
Kroos broke the deadlock in the fourth minute with a great first goal from the box that dragged past goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic.
Eibar responded well, but lost 0-2 after half an hour.Ramos got out to intercept a pass and trigger a quick counterattack that ended with the captain of Madrid typing in a selfless square ball from the impressive Eden Hazard, who followed When he recovered for the first time since February, an ankle fracture occurred.
A crisp goal from Marcelo in the lower right corner after a better interaction between Hazard and Karim Benzema made it 3-0 before the break. The Brazilian left-back knelt down after drilling his first league goal of the season.
Thibaut Courtois made an excellent save from Edu Exposito and Sergi Enrich hit the crossbar with a header before Pablo De Blasis' shot from Bigas was deflected and flung over Courtois to give Eibar a lifeline.
It was a largely pedestrian-friendly second half of Madrid, with Hazard and Ramos taking off and Marcelo struggling with one blow, but Eibar was unable to make a comeback.
What does that mean? The title race shows few signs of bubbling
Striking victories each for Barca and Madrid mean that the gap at the top is only two points and 10 games are left. Neither side looks particularly rusty after the long break.
This was certainly a demonstration to show that Zidane's men will not give up the hunt without a fight and will also serve as a useful reminder of Manchester City before the last 16 of the Champions League return.
Eibar is only two points above the last three after winning only once in eight league games.
Danger and Benzema in harmony
Injuries have ruined much of Hazard's first season in LaLiga, but this ad was a sign that he plans to make the most of the weeks ahead.
His connection game with Benzema was particularly good in the first half and should have given Zidane a lot of encouragement.
Who stays left for right?
Rodrygo started the game, Gareth Bale and Vinicius Junior came, Isco, James Rodriguez and Marco Asensio stayed on the bench and we are still unclear who Madrid's best option on the right wing is.
That kind of depth will come in handy in the upcoming hectic schedule, but choosing the top three would help offset an attack in Madrid that has often struggled this season.
Important facts about Opta
- Zinedine Zidane is the third Real Madrid boss after Miguel Munoz (605) and Vicente del Bosque (246), who has reached 200 games in all competitions (W132 D42 L26).
- Madrid had fewer shots this season than any other LaLiga game (6 in total, 5 on target), but the highest shot conversion rate (50 percent).
- Toni Kroos has scored six goals in all competitions this season - his best record in a single campaign for Los Blancos.
- Eibar boss Jose Luis Mendilibar is winless in his eleven away games at Real Madrid in LaLiga (D1 L10). His teams have conceded 40 goals (average 3.6).
- Only against Barcelona (41) did Eibar concede more goals than against Real Madrid (32), while they only scored eight goals against Barcelona.
Madrid will host Valencia on Thursday before heading to Real Sociedad three days later. A home game against Athletic Bilbao awaits Eibar on Wednesday.
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