Karim Benzema scored twice late in the game as Real Madrid came back from behind to beat Elche 2-1 in the 2020/21 La Liga on Saturday afternoon.
Real Madrid had the lion’s share of possession early in the game but weren’t able to create many chances. The first big moment of the game came in the 36th minute when the champions hit Elche on the counter but Karim Benzema fluffed his line and sent his effort wide.
The Frenchman fired another effort into the side-netting early in the second half as Real Madrid probed for the opening goal. But, it was Elche who broke the deadlock at the hour mark through Dani Calvo’s powerful header. Zinedine Zidane immediately brought on Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, in the process shifting to a 4-3-3 from the three-man backline he had started with.
The substitutions paid off as Modric provided a fine cross for Benzema to head home the equalising goal in the 73rd minute. Los Blancos pushed in search of a winner, with Casemiro going close twice while Nacho also had a shot saved. However, a minute into stoppage time, the turnaround was complete with Benzema unleashing a sensational left-footed strike to win it for his team.
Here’s how we rated the performances of the Real Madrid stars at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
Did not have a whole lot to do but needed to stay alert to deal with a dangerous cross in the first period while he made a crucial save to deny Guido Carrillo in the second. Couldn’t do much about Calvo’s goal, however.
Raphael Varane: 5/10
A shaky display from the Frenchman who was directly culpable for Elche’s goal on the afternoon as he was beaten way too easily by Calvo in the air. His distribution too was a bit scratchy on the night, with Varane losing possession on multiple occasions. Needs to pull up his socks ahead of a big game against Atalanta next week.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
Back into the side after having recovered from his knee issue, the Real Madrid captain started off a bit rustily as one would expect after close to five weeks on the sidelines. Grew into the game and was aggressive against the Elche attack. Had a penalty claim denied and could have conceded one himself before being withdrawn in the 61st minute. A decent return for Ramos.
Unpopular Opinion : Nacho would have been in the best defenders in the world conversation if he hadn't dedicated his entire career at Real Madrid .
He's literally flawless ❤ . pic.twitter.com/am7RFjMnLg
— TR (@timeronaldo) March 13, 2021
Playing on the left side of the back three, Nacho was given the licence to push forward which he did to good effect on several occasions. Put the ball into the net in the first half but the whistle had been blown for a foul in the buildup. Had another shot saved by Edgar Badia with the score at 1-1. Defensively, solid and secure on the afternoon.
Lucas Vazquez: 6/10
Starting as the right wing-back, Vazquez offered great energy to run up and down the flank. Defended well for most parts, completing four tackles but his end product in the attacking side of things wasn’t up to the mark. Still, managed to make one key pass.
Federico Valverde: 5.5/10
Making his first start since returning from injury, the Uruguayan wasn’t able to impose himself on the proceedings like he is capable of doing. Did not offer much in the way of forward thrust from the centre while his passing was also not as sharp as it needed to be. Made way for Toni Kroos soon after Elche scored.
It's just incredible. Real Madrid are going through Casemiro like he's Van Basten.
— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) March 13, 2021
A huge threat offensively, Casemiro looked likely to breach the Elche net every time he drove forward or on every occasion Real Madrid were awarded a set-piece in a dangerous area. Had four shots, two of which came very close late in the game. Solid with his defensive work in the middle of the park as well. Will be missed by Real Madrid against Atalanta as he is suspended.
Apart from a weak shot that was saved by the Elche goalkeeper, Isco failed to conjure up anything notable in the final third of the pitch. But did show some bright sparks in his gameplay every now and then before making way for Modric.
Ferland Mendy: 6/10
Not quite as effective as he can be on the left, with the wing-back unable to link up with the Real Madrid attackers on a constant basis. Still, managed to play three key passes and stayed fairly solid at the back. Although, it was Mendy who conceded the corner leading to Elche’s goal, while there were a few sloppy touches and passes here and there.
Karim Benzema: 8/10
Karim Benzema has scored 15 LaLiga goals this season, the eighth season in which he has reached the landmark for Real Madrid.
A crucial brace today to secure all three points for Real.👑 pic.twitter.com/lZRfqad8kj
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 13, 2021
Had the best chance of the game in the first period but Benzema couldn’t hit the target. Sent another shot into the side netting early in the second period. Stepped up when Real Madrid went behind though, equalising with a very good header before sealing the victory with a thumping strike in stoppage time.
Vinicius Junior: 6/10
Playing alongside Benzema in attack, the Brazilian had a couple of bright moments in the first half, one of which saw him set the Real Madrid striker up with a glorious chance that wasn’t converted. However, influence faded with time and he eventually made way for Eden Hazard as Real Madrid pushed for the winning goal.
Rodrygo Goes: 7/10
On for Sergio Ramos immediately after the hosts went behind. Showed good movement and link-up play and managed to create a couple of decent chances for his teammates before setting Benzema up for the match-winning goal late in the game. Impactful.
Luka Modric: 7/10
• 28 minutes
• 1 assist
• 28/30 passes
• 2 key passes
• 1 big chance created
Game changer.🎩 pic.twitter.com/4UicusAtup
— 𝐸𝓁𝑒✵ (@ModricEle) March 13, 2021
Livened things up after replacing Isco soon after Elche scored. Made a difference almost immediately, setting Benzema up for the equalising goal with a teasing delivery into the box. Finished with two key passes.
Toni Kroos: 6/10
Came on for Valverde in the 62nd minute and Real Madrid looked a much better team with him on the field. Created a chance for Casemiro from a free-kick and provided more control in the middle.
Eden Hazard: N/A
Marked his return from injury when he replaced Vinicius Jr. for the final 15 minutes.