Diego Rolan’s last minute goal proved to be a mere consolation as Real Madrid cruised to an easy victory against a relegation bound Malaga at La Roselada.
Zinedine Zidane fielded a largely second string side against Malaga, resting Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Raphael Varane. However, they were barely troubled by their hosts in a match severely lacking in intensity and eventually coasted to a 2-1 victory.
As expected, Real dominated proceedings, finishing the game with 62% possession. They created and squandered a number of chances, before Isco opened the scoring in the 29th minute with a stunning free-kick from twenty yards out, curling it into the bottom corner.
The Spaniard then combined with Karim Benzema and set up Casemiro, who doubled his side’s lead in the 63rd minute with an easy tap-in from six yards out. Real Madrid continued to dominate and Malaga were restricted to only the occasional foray forward.
Then, in the 93rd minute, Federico Ricca’s cross into the box wasn’t cleared by Jesus Vallejo, who tripped and the loose ball was smashed in by a grateful Diego Rolan from point blank range. But that eventually meant nothing, as referee Ricardo de Burgos halted proceedings seconds later.
The victory puts Real Madrid two points ahead of Valencia, who have dropped down to fourth. They are now only four points behind cross town rivals Atletico Madrid and still have a chance of finishing second in the table, with six games left to play this term. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zidane’s men.
Keylor Navas: 7
Made some good saves and some routine recoveries to keep the hosts out. He was called into action only a few times on the night, but delivered each time. Could do nothing for Rolan’s goal.
Dani Carvajal: 7
Distributed well. Was lively going forward and tried to be involved in most of his team’s attacks. Couldn’t contribute with a goal or assist, but defended well and ensured that the hosts would get nothing from his flank.
Jesus Vallejo: 6
Was at fault for Malaga’s goal as he failed to clear his lines, instead falling over at a crucial moment. That was his only mistake in the entire game and he otherwise defended well and with confidence. A far better outing for him, when compared to the Juventus game. Zidane’s faith in the youngster slowly seems to be paying off.
Sergio Ramos: 7
Back in the starting XI after serving a suspension during the game against Juventus, the Spaniard showed just how important he is to his team. Brought a calming presence and cut a resolute figure at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. Led his backline well, but could do nothing for the goal.
Theo Hernandez: 7
Theo got forward, distributed well, wasn’t caught out of possession and took care of everything that came his way. Took players on and even whipped in a few crosses. Not his best game in a Real Madrid shirt, but the youngster did well even though he was lacking conviction at times, something that restricts him from taking more risks. Picked up a booking.
Mateo Kovacic: 7
Did a lot of good defensive work, making some key tackles and recovering possession for his side. Ran a lot, combined well with Casemiro to ensure that Real Madrid retained the ball and provided good cover for the players going forward.
One of his easier days in a Real Madrid shirt. A momentary lapse in focus nearly led to Malaga equalizing, but Navas bailed him out. Found himself at the right place at the right time and was rewarded with the easiest of chances. The Brazilian wasn’t making any mistake from six yards out.
Lucas Vazquez: 6.5
A good performance from the Spaniard, but his end product and decision making in the final third was a bit off. Was lively on the right flank and gave the Malaga defence a lot of trouble, but to their credit, they restricted his influence on proceedings minimal.
A fantastic performance on a return to his old stomping ground. Scored the first goal with a superb free-kick and then later set up Casemiro. Created numerous chances for his teammates, distributed extremely well and was taken off to a well deserved standing ovation in the 72nd minute.
Marco Asensio: 6
Yet another underwhelming performance. The search for Asensio’s early season form continues. Had no luck down Malaga’s left flank, but for lack of effort and was even denied a penalty. Subbed off in the 66th minute for Dani Ceballos.
Karim Benzema: 6.5
Combined well with Isco to help set up Real’s second goal, but that was his only major contribution on Sunday. Benzema’s goalscoring woes continue and he was kept out once again. Was good at everything, getting into good positions, creating spaces, linking up with his teammates and holding up the ball but once again, a lack of end product let him down.