REAL MADRID 3
Di Maria 51, Ronaldo 81, Ronaldo 85
Real Madrid’s trip to Hercules had all the ingredients for a potential upset with the Alicante-based team already having defeated Barcelona at the Nou Camp and Sevilla at home. But goals two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo helped Jose Mourinho’s men on the road to a vital victory.
Mourinho stuck with the same 11 players that had put six past Racing Santander last weekend, while the home side boasted the likes of summer signings David Trezeguet and Nelson Valdes in their ranks.
Madrid fell behind for the first time this season after a well-guided header from Trezeguet after two minutes. Hercules continued to put pressure on the Real defence and forced a great save from Casillas from close range. Los Blancos soon began to work their way into the game, however, and were unlucky not to equalise when Hercules goalkeeper Juan Calatayud first denied Ronaldo then Gonzalo Higuain from the follow-up shot.
The home side eventually cracked under intense pressure from Madrid. Ronaldo’s long-range effort was only parried to Argentine Angel Di Maria who smashed home from ten yards shortly after the break.
Mesut Ozil struggled to make a real impression on the game having been so instrumental in Real’s good start to the season. The German often dropped deep to try and get on the ball but was well marshalled by the Hercules midfield.
It was Madrid’s strength in depth that ultimately proved to be the difference. Karim Benzema came off the bench to play a part in both goals and prove to Mourinho that he is worthy of a starting place in the team. Full-back Marcelo continued to bomb forward down the left, and it was the Brazilian’s brilliant run that set up the second goal. Ronaldo followed-up Benzema’s initial effort to tap the ball into an empty net. Marcelo is fast becoming a key player for Mourinho, he offers a great outlet on the left-hand side and isn’t scared to take players on, as he has shown so often this season. There are, however, questions about Marcelo’s defensive ability, but with time and good coaching from Mourinho there is no doubt he can fill Roberto Carlos’ legendary boots.
Ronaldo wrapped-up the points with five minutes to go as the home team’s tiredness started to show substitute Benzema broke the offside trap before squaring the ball for Ronaldo to score his 11th goal in La Liga this season.
The win ensures Real remain at the top of the league going into next week’s derby game against fierce rivals Atletico Madrid at the Bernabeau. Madrid, under Mourinho, are starting to show true potential to regain the La Liga crown, and last night’s game proved that they have the character to come back and dig-out results where they might not have done in previous seasons. The Portuguese coach certainly looks to have the many talented individuals working as one cohesive unit.
4 S. Ramos – 3 Pepe – 2 Carvalho – 12 Marcelo
24 Khedira – 14 Xabi Alonso – 22 Di Maria
23 Ozil – 20 Higuain – 7 Ronaldo
61 – 9 Benzema on for 3 Pepe
83 – 18 Albiol on for 23 Ozil
83 – 17 Arbeloa on for 20 Higuain