Real Madrid laboured to an unimpressive 2-0 victory over Osasuna to move to within two points of 2020-21 La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, who won 1-0 at Elche.
Eder Militao and Casemiro scored within four minutes of each other in the second half as Los Blancos secured all three points to remain hot on the heels of the Rojiblancos.
Till the 76th minute, Real Madrid looked toothless in attack and lacked coherence as they were seemingly headed towards another dour goalless stalemate. Some credit for that must also go to Los Rojillos goalkeeper Sergio Herrera, though, who made some incredible saves in the first half to keep the match in the balance.
However, the gulf in quality between the two teams eventually showed, with Militao heading home from a corner followed by an easy finish from Casemiro after Karim Benzema’s superb run.
With the win, Real Madrid are now three points clear of arch-rivals Barcelona, who’ll be in action against Valencia on Sunday. On that note, let’s have a look at the player ratings for Real Madrid:
Thibaut Courtois – 7/10
Thibaut Courtois didn’t have much to do, as Osasuna never really posed a direct threat to Real Madrid’s goal. Nevertheless, the Belgian made two saves on the night and picked up another clean sheet, boosting his prospects of winning another Zamora trophy.
Alvaro Odriozola – 7.5/10
Alvaro Odriozola was in inspired form on the night, adding an extra edge to Real Madrid’s attack with his relentless forays. He also didn’t miss a beat at the other end, too, making some vital clearances.
Eder Militao – 8.5/10
The best player for Real Madrid on the night, Eder Militao not only marshalled the Real Madrid backline with elan, but he also posed a huge attacking threat, scoring at the third time of asking after he was denied earlier by Herrera.
Raphael Varane – 5/10
Raphael Varane rediscovered his defensive mojo against Osasuna, putting in a resolute performance at the back in the first half that yielded two clearances and one key pass. He also used his aerial prowess to prevent Osasuna from scoring from set-pieces. However, he was taken off at the break.
Marcelo – 6/10
The Real Madrid veteran started brightly, enjoying a good spell down his flank and lifting some nice crosses into the box. But the Brazilian faded in the second half, and his penchant for roaming forward left acres of space for Osasuna to target.
Casemiro – 8/10
Casemiro was an incredible burst of energy and a lively presence in midfield, as always. He also showed off his extensive passing range with several long balls before capping off his performance with a simple finish for Real Madrid’s second goal on the night.
Antonio Blanco – 6/10
Antonio Blanco was a surprise name in the Real Madrid teamsheet. But after his performance against Osasuna, Zidane would want to start him more regularly.
In just his second start of the season, the 20-year old gave an excellent account of himself, dominating midfield with the kind of authority that belied his age while also playing a crucial role in keeping the ball circulating for Real Madrid.
Marco Asensio – 7/10
Marco Asensio had a great outing, and it wouldn’t be a stretch that he even upstaged Karim Benzema.
The Real Madrid winger took the game to Osasuna with his direct runs and created five big chances, more than anyone in the team. He is getting into his groove just in time for Real Madrid’s decisive second leg Champions League semi-final against Chelsea.
Eden Hazard – 6.5/10
Eden Hazard is getting fit just in time for the home stretch of Real Madrid’s campaign. But he is still nowhere near his rip-roaring best. Hazard’s first touch let him down, and he was generally off the pace too.
Vinicius Junior – 6/10
Vinicius Junior ran with purpose and tried his hardest to work something out in attack. However, his end-product was lacking, and he even missed some half-chances. He was taken off just after the hour mark.
Karim Benzema – 7/10
There were no goals for the talismanic Real Madrid striker on the night. But Karim Benzema was heavily involved in the thick of things and was the architect of Real Madrid’s second goal, too, demonstrating his underrated dribbling skills before laying off for Casemiro to tap the ball home.
Ratings of Real Madrid substitutes
Nacho – 6/10
Nacho replaced Varane at half-time and held his ground well, making a vital clearance in the 54th minute after Thibaut Courtois had spilled the ball.
Isco – 7/10
Isco executed a brilliant corner kick that found Militao amongst a crowd of players, and the Brazilian did the rest.
Rodrygo – 7/10
Rodrygo caused Osasuna a lot of problems after coming on, thanks to his forward runs down the right. He even floated a terrific cross for Karim Benzema in the dying moments of the game.
Sergio Arribas – 6/10
The 19-year old Sergio Arribas swung in an inviting cross just moments after coming on, but that was cleared before it could reach Karim Benzema.
Miguel Gutierrez – 6/10
Miguel Gutierrez dived straight into action for Real Madrid after coming on, as he played a neat one-two with Marco Asensio to open up some space. However, when it came to crossing for Benzema, Miguel Gutierrez’s end product left a lot to be desired.