Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. made their mark yet again as Real Madrid came from behind to beat Valencia 2-1 at the Mestalla on Sunday.

The first half was a largely scratchy affair thanks to three injury-enforced substitutions, which meant neither side could really get going apart from the odd half chance. Post the interval, Valencia were the better of the two sides, coming close to scoring before eventually breaking the deadlock midway through the second period.

It took some individual errors for Los Che to finally make good on their dominance, as Hugo Duro beat Thibaut Courtois with a fine finish to make it 1-0. This is when Real Madrid finally woke up from their slumber, and they began probing the Valencia defence in search of an equaliser.

The Merengues finally pulled back on level terms in the 86th minute, as Vinicius Jr. saw his effort being deflected off of Dimitri Foulquier. Shortly after, Karim Benzema completed the comeback, with Vinicius turning provider for a close range header to make it 2-1. The result means Real Madrid are now the table toppers in La Liga, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Thibaut Courtois: 7/10

Once again, Courtois showed just how important he is for Real Madrid, as he produced some big saves to ensure Valencia did not run away with the game early in the second half. Powerless to deny Hugo Duro for the opener, though.

Dani Carvajal: 6/10

A frustrating outing for Carvajal, as he only lasted around 25 minutes before being taken off with yet another injury.

Eder Militao: 6/10

A somewhat difficult evening for Eder Militao, who struggled in the air against the imposing Maxi Gomez. Otherwise, he was fairly solid, combining well with David Alaba to snuff out the danger that Valencia posed. Completed all but three passes to ensure efficient build-up from the back.

David Alaba: 7/10

The only Real Madrid defender who made a solid impression on the day, Alaba used all of his experience to keep Gomez quiet for much of the proceedings. Made seven clearances as well as a big block in addition to winning a couple of duels. Typically reliable on the ball, he misplaced just three passes all game.

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Nacho: 5/10

Once again deployed in the left-back slot, Nacho was largely pinned in his own half, although he struggled at times against the pace of Goncalo Guedes. His output on the ball was slightly sub-par as well, as he lost possession 13 times while hardly proving to be an outlet down the left flank.

Federico Valverde: 5/10

While he cannot be faulted for a lack of effort, Valverde just could not add much to the game in terms of impact. On top of that, he switched off when Duro scored the opener, although that goal was largely down to the error by Lucas Vazquez.

Casemiro: 5/10

A rare blip for Casemiro, who just could not manage to provide a solid presence in front of the Real Madrid backline. It was a performance complete with poorly timed challenged and lost duels which proceeded to him looking leggy and adding little to the game. Rightly subbed off for Eduardo Camavinga.

Luka Modric: 5/10

Not the best of showing by Modric, who did retain his usually high level of precision on the ball – 92 percent pass completion rate – but struggled to set a quick tempo to the game. The minutes are also starting to show an effect on him, as he started struggling early in the second half before being taken off.

Vinicius Jr.: 8/10

2021/22 is proving to be the redemption arc for Vinicius Jr. following his inconsistencies last term. A bright spark on the left flank, the Brazilian prodigy linked up marvellously with Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema while playing as many as three key passes. The standout moments, though, were when he first scored the equaliser before setting Benzema up for the winner. Job well done.

Eden Hazard: 7/10

Deployed in his new central position, Hazard was given the freedom to roam around the field to express himself better. And the Belgian international did just that, playing as many as six key passes, all while retaining a pass completion rate of 94 percent. Getting back to his best even if it is ever so slowly.

Karim Benzema: 8/10

Cometh the hour, cometh the man is a saying that has been holding true for Benzema for years now just as it did on Sunday. With the minutes ticking by, Benzema showcased his growing chemistry with Vinicius Jr. to set up the equaliser before finding the back of the net himself and seal all three points. Typically put in the hard yards otherwise.

SUBSTITUTES

Lucas Vazquez: 5/10

Introduced midway through the first half after Carvajal was forced off injured, Vazquez provided a big presence on his forays down the right flank, linking up smartly with Benzema in particular. However, it was his error that was pounced on by Duro for the Valencia goal. Has to do better on the defensive front.

Rodrygo Goes: 6.5/10

An energetic presence in the final quarter of the game, as Rodrygo Goes took on Toni Lato, bringing his teammates in the game in the process. Came close to scoring once as well.

Eduardo Camavinga: 7/10

Another appearance off the bench and yet another impressive cameo by Camavinga, whose introduction partly helped in upping the tempo of the game, with the young Frenchman completing 17 of the 18 passes he attempted while holding the fort in the middle of the park.

Luka Jovic: N/A

On for Hazard as Ancelotti sought another big presence in the Valencia box, Jovic did not see a lot of the ball and could never muster up an effort on goal.

Isco: N/A

On for Valverde, Isco did well to keep Real Madrid in business during their late onslaught, losing the ball just once.

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