Real Madrid continued their home dominance and have literally made Santiago Bernabeu as their fortress which others have failed to get past. The latest to enter the area were Malaga and they too couldn’t help but come out empty handed. Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo were enough to get us the victory.
After seeing Barcelona extend their lead to eight points on Saturday, it was imperative for us to win and keep the gap down to five points. And also not slip to actually go down to the third place as Valencia is on our heels as well. A fantastic sight was to see Guti starting and also wearing the captains armband. There was a minute’s silence before the game in memory of the people who died in the horrific Haiti earthquake.
The game started slowly with both teams failing to retain possession and keep the passing going. Despite the sluggish play both teams weren’t great going forward and in bothering the goal keeper. The first real bother on the goal came via a lucky deflection off of Xabi Alonso leaving Casillas stranded in the eighth minute. Luckily, the ball hit the crossbar and there was no Malaga player to attack it thus giving Casillas the opportunity to push the ball to safety.
Real Madrid then picked up the pace with intricate passing from Kaka, Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos and being helped by Guti and Lass in the middle. The captain for the day, Guti, then disturbed the Malaga keeper with a left footed shot from inside the box which was well saved to keep the game scoreless in the fifteenth minute mark.
Problems on our goal and defensive woes continued a few minutes later as well. Casillas was forced to come out and save an attack from Malaga into developing by heading the ball away and the ball then landed to another Malaga player whose chip shot was again stopped by Iker with his head and both of these saves were made on the edge of the box.
Real Madrid eventually scored the first goal of the game to create a comfort zone for themselves. Super one touch passing between Guti, Benzema and then a low drilled cross from Kaka into the box where Ronaldo pounced meant Real Madrid were a goal ahead. (Real Madrid 1-0, 35 minutes)
The lead was extended four minutes later by the Portuguese player. A through ball by Guti was taken well by Ronaldo who shot with his right foot to prove his hefty price tag and bring the stadium to its feet. The keeper dove in despair as he stood no chance of stopping that. (Real Madrid 2-0, 39 minutes)
The teams went into halftime with The Whites leading 2-0. (Half Time 2-0)
The second half had very little flare and goal scoring opportunities by either sides as Malaga concentrated more on defending and thus being difficult to break down.
In the 53rd minute, Sergio Ramos converted from a Benzema pass inside the box but was adjudged offside by a little margin. Real Madrid still two goals to the good.
The biggest talking point of the second half and possibly the game took place in the 70th minute when Ronaldo was given a straight red card for apparently elbowing Malaga’s Mtiliga in the nose. Replays suggested the referee had made a mistake as Mtiliga was clearly clutching on to Ronaldo’s shirt as he tried to outrun the Dane. (Red Card : Cristiano Ronaldo 70 minutes)
Continuing on, quick play by Kaka on the wing put Arbeloa free and the Spaniard ran into the box and cut the ball across for Xabi Alonso who blazed the effort over. Could have been 3-0 to Real Madrid if only the former Liverpool man had put on his goal scoring shoes.
In the 84th minute, a low cross by Malaga’s player was swept aside by Arbeloa in the box. A very dangerous ball which could have easily been an own goal.
The last and final chance of the game was beautifully created by Granero who ran with the ball and got a powerful shot from his right foot but the keeper was equal to it as he saved the shot exceptionally well.
The game finished 2-0 and we keep the five point distance with Barcelona and hope they slip up as we can’t afford to do that.
1. Super play by Ronaldo to score both the goals. Especially the first one which involved Guti, Benzema, Kaka and Ronaldo, all portraying their skill and class at its optimum level.
2. Having Guti being part of starting lineup is a wonderful thing and if he continues playing the way he did then I don’t think we would have any problems in creating chances.
3. Very little defensive fatalities. Casillas wasn’t bothered on more than two occasions in the first half.
4. Kaka was great when combining with other players on both sides of the flank.
5. Sergio Ramos’ performance can easily be described as “flawless”.
1.Possession was given away cheaply on many instances and that too in the final third.
2. Kaka and Benzema need to get some shots on target and at least test the goal keeper.
3. Ronaldo’s red card means he would miss the game away to Deportivo which is one place where I would want our best players to play. Not having Higuain is bad enough. Hoping the challenging of the decision works out well.
4. Garay was subbed off at halftime due to a hamstring problem. He looks likely to return but hope its nothing serious for the future.