Real Madrid picked up their first win in six games across all competitions, as they defeated Viktoria Plzen 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday night.
Real Madrid came into their third Group G encounter of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League against the Czech Republic outfit under intense pressure, having not picked up a victory in five matches on the trot, while losing three in a row. However, just eleven minutes into the game, Los Blancos were up and running, with Karim Benzema heading home from the back post.
Real failed to drive home their early advantage, failing to take a number of opportunities to extend their lead and with Plzen starting to cause problems to their backline, it looked like Julen Lopetegui’s men will be deprived of a win once again. However, Marcelo then scored his second goal in three days to double Madrid’s lead in the 55th minute.
The Merengues did suffer a slight scare when Patrik Hrosovsky found the back of the net in the 78th minute, but they held on to their lead and clinched a much-awaited victory. The result sees Real Madrid jump to the top of Group G, level on points with second-placed AS Roma, but ahead on head-to-head record.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) October 23, 2018
Here’s how the Real Madrid stars fared on Tuesday night at home.
Keylor Navas: 6.5/10
Back into the starting XI in place of Thibaut Courtois, the Costa Rican international made an early contribution to deny Milan Petrzela just ten minutes into the game. Didn’t have a whole lot to do in terms of saves following that, but was alert whenever called upon.
Lucas Vazquez: 6/10
The Spaniard was handed a surprise start at right-back by the manager ahead of Alvaro Odriozola on Tuesday. And to a large extent, Vazquez justified his selection, making quite a few surging forward runs and provided the cross for the opening goal. Was caught out defensively at times, but it was expected considering he was playing out of position.
Preferred over Raphael Varane after the Frenchman’s disastrous display in the defeat to Levante on the weekend, Nacho did not disappoint. Dealt with most things that Plzen threw at him, including a key block towards the end, to preserve his team’s lead. Solid, if not spectacular.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
The Real Madrid captain saw a header bounce off the woodwork with the score at 0-0 and had a few more opportunities to score in the game. Defensively did what he was asked to on most occasions, but should have gotten tighter to Hrosovksy leading up to his goal.
Most of the Brazilian’s good moments came when he romped forward from the left-back position, with his most important contribution coming in the form of the second goal with a delicate effort, that proved to be the eventual winner. Left a lot of open spaces in behind, which Plzen failed to make the most of. Came off injured late on.
Luka Modric: 5.5/10
Another quiet performance from the Croatian international, who still seems to be suffering from fatigue after a long summer. Passing was sharp and accurate, but lacked his usual incision and creativity, while he offered very little protection defensively to Vazquez down the right side.
Not the Brazilian’s most dominant performance. But, he did the defensive side of things well, snuffing out a number of attacks from the visitors, although he could have landed himself in trouble with a few overzealous challenges. Tried to get forward at times, without much impact though.
Toni Kroos: 6.5/10
Returning to the starting lineup after being left out for the weekend defeat, the German international was Real Madrid’s best midfielder on the day. Showed good energy, hardly misplaced any passes and kept things ticking with little fuss. Still some way from his usual standards though.
Gareth Bale: 5/10
Back in the starting XI, the Welsh wing wizard was anonymous for most of the first period. Squandered a number of promising opportunities and looked like someone who is only returning from an injury. Did assist Marcelo for the second goal with a nice flick, but more is expected from Madrid’s star man.
Karim Benzema: 7.5/10
Opened the scoring early in the game with a fine header, ending a goal-drought lasting over nine hours. In the process, he became the fourth highest goalscorer in Champions League history, eclipsing Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of 56 goals. Found the net again, but saw his effort ruled out for offside. His overall link-up play and movement off the ball were brilliant on the night.
Handed a start again, despite his recent return from his appendicitis surgery, Isco struggled to make any sort of impact. Missed a straightforward chance to make it 2-0, while his passing was awry at most times. Looked rusty and was subbed off very early after the break.
Federico Valverde: 7/10
Sent on for Isco just ten minutes into the second period, to make his competitive debut for Real Madrid. The Uruguayan international gave a very good account of himself, showing solidity and attacking intent in the middle of the park. An energetic display.
Marco Asensio: 5/10
Replaced Bale with fifteen minutes left on the clock. Looked like a player short on confidence, as he failed to make any noteworthy contribution.
Mariano Diaz: N/A
Came on for Benzema in the dying moments of the game.