Vinicius Jr. made the difference as Real Madrid eked out a hard-fought 2-1 win over Elche at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on Saturday.

The game started on a dull note, with Rodrygo Goes coming the closest to breaking the deadlock in the early stages with a speculative effort before having his afternoon cut short by a knock. The opening goal finally came midway through the first half, with Vinicius Jr. scoring with a composed finish with his left foot after being released by Mariano Diaz, who was found with a first-time pass by Casemiro.

Elche did take the game to Real Madrid but could not trouble Thibaut Courtois for the most part. What that did do was keep the visitors on their toes as they struggled to retain total control of the proceedings. That was until Raul Guti saw red for a second bookable offence in the 63rd minute, thereby ending Elche’s spirited endeavours.

Real Madrid duly pounced as the Elche players’ heads started dropping all around them. And Los Blancos added to their advantage in the 73rd minute, as Vinicius doubled his and his side’s tally with a delicate finish after being set up by Luka Modric. But, there was time for some late drama as Pere Milla scored from close range after Casemiro gifted the ball to Dario Benedetto.

However, the hosts could not get back on level terms in the dying embers of the game, as Real Madrid held firm to collect all three points courtesy of the hard-fought 2-1 win over Elche. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Thibaut Courtois: 6/10

There was precious little that Courtois had to do for much of the game apart from making simple stops. However, the Real Madrid No. 1 was sold short by Casemiro, and he could not have done anything to deny Pere Milla for his goal.

Lucas Vazquez: 5/10

A difficult outing for Lucas Vazquez, who was tormented a great deal by Johan Mojica. In fairness, he needed more support from Marco Asensio, who did not work as hard as he should have for much of the proceedings.

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Eder Militao: 7/10

Eder Militao was in for a physical outing, with Lucas Boye giving him a run for his money. But for the most part, the Brazilian was up to the task at hand, winning eight duels while completing four tackles, two clearances and two interceptions. Job well done in the end.

David Alaba: 6/10

Starting at the heart of the Real Madrid defence again, Alaba was largely solid on the day, although he did lose the ball cheaply on one occasion to Boye before coming out unscathed from the resulting move. Lucas Perez also had his measure on a few occasions, but some of his clearances (seven in all) were critical in alleviating the danger.

Marcelo: 6/10

Reinstated to the left-back slot, Marcelo endured a game of hits and misses in a typical fashion. The Real Madrid captain was invariably a major threat down the left flank. At the same time, he was a liability at the back, failing to track the runs of his markers on several occasions. Furthermore, he was also wasteful on the ball, which was borne out of his lack of game-time this season.

Luka Modric: 7/10

A fantastic showing by Modric, who showed yet again that age is no obstacle for him to showcase his class. The Croat played three key passes, including the one that released Vinicius Jr. for his second strike. There were a couple of questionable moments off the ball, but those were only minor negatives.

Casemiro: 6/10

Casemiro enjoyed a memorable performance as he regularly cut out the moves that Elche looked to create. At the end of one such moment, he opened up play with a nicely worked first-time pass to Mariano Diaz, who set Vinicius Jr. up for the first goal. However, the Brazilian nearly went from hero to zero as he gifted the ball to Dario Benedetto in the lead-up to Elche’s goal.

Toni Kroos: 7/10

An odd game for Kroos, who barely lost the ball and opened up play brilliantly with some well-worked long passes. The German international even played three key passes and was at hand to put Real Madrid in control of the proceedings whenever they were in the ascendancy. However, there is an argument that he put Casemiro under pressure for Elche’s goal, although it is still down to the Brazilian.

Rodrygo Goes: N/A

Back in the starting lineup, Rodrygo’s outing lasted just 15 minutes as he picked up a knock following a coming-together with Pedro Bigas. Not the best of games for the Player to Watch in our preview.

Mariano Diaz: 7/10

Making his first appearance of the season owing to the absence of Karim Benzema, Mariano was given a chance to impress, which is exactly what he did. While he did not manage to find the back of the net himself, the 28-year-old still made his mark, showing brilliant awareness and selflessness to set Vinicius Jr. up for the opener. Fell hard on his head late on, and one would hope he is alright after the heavy fall.

Vinicius Junior: 9/10

With Benzema unavailable, Vinicius Jr. had the onus on him to deliver the goods. And the Brazilian embraced the added responsibility, with the finish for his goal being delightful. However, some of his touches were sub-par, allowing Elche to unleash express counters. But Vinicius made up for all his wrongdoings with the finish for his second goal, which was simply exquisite.

SUBSTITUTES

Marco Asensio: 6/10

Introduced earlier than anticipated, Asensio oddly struggled to get into the thick of the action. The Spaniard did play a key pass. However, with the game largely flowing from the left wing, he could not manage to influence the proceedings much.

Dani Carvajal: 6/10

On for Vazquez, Carvajal got just the right kind of game to continue easing back into the thick of the action. Made a couple of big clearances when Elche rediscovered their resolve late on.

Ferland Mendy: 6/10

Much like Carvajal, Mendy got the chance to get his rhythm back and linked up play nicely from the left flank.

Eduardo Camavinga: N/A

A late introduction in place of Modric, Camavinga helped see the game out after the late goal by Pere Milla.

Eden Hazard: N/A

Sent on late in place of Vinicius, Hazard barely saw the ball in the final few minutes, although he did complete each of his five attempted passes.

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