Real Madrid produced one of their best performances of the season in a much-needed 4-1 win over Alaves to ease the pressure on Zinedine Zidane after back-to-back defeats.
Zidane was forced to watch the game from home after testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday meaning assistant David Bettoni took the Spanish champions on their trip to Mendizorroza.
Real Madrid didn’t much miss the Frenchman in the dugout, though, as they dominated from the start, with Casemiro opening the scoring after just 15 minutes, heading into the back of the net from a Toni Kroos corner kick.
Benzema made it 2-0 when he lashed home following an exceptional dummy by Eden Hazard to create space and the Belgian scored one of his own on the stroke of half time, finishing off a Toni Kroos threaded pass from deep.
Alaves gave themselves a lifeline on the hour mark, with Joselu powering a header past Thibaut Courtois from a Lucas Perez freekick delivery, but a second Benzema goal saw Real Madrid reassert themselves against the club celebrating their 100th birthday.
The result eases some of the pressure on Zidane who had seen his Real Madrid team suffer damaging defeats to Athletic Club in the Spanish Supercopa and lower league Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey.
Real Madrid celebrate v Alaves
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TALKING POINT - Is Eden Hazard finally finding his feet at Real Madrid?
When Real Madrid needed it most, Hazard came up with arguably his best performance in a Real Madrid shirt to date. The Belgian was played in a central role behind Benzema as the number nine and it was a position that appeared to suit him well. Indeed, Hazard was lively throughout against Alaves, scoring a goal and contributing an assist. He faded in the second half, but this was down to a lack of fitness. Once he finds that, Hazard could finally provide himself as the £100m player Real Madrid always hoped he would be.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
If ever an illustration was needed of how reliant Real Madrid are on Luka Modric, it has been produced by the Spanish champions’ performance in their last two games. Against Alcoyano, the Croatian was desperately missed. But Modric pulled the strings for Real Madrid against Alaves, cutting open the opposition with several exceptional passes from deep. There’s a reason Florentino Perez is so keen to tie Modric to a new contract with the 35-year-old set to become a free agent this summer. Benzema, Casemiro and Hazard all shone, but Modric was the best player on the pitch here.
Real Madrid celebrate Casemiro's opener
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Alaves: Pacheco 5, Navarro 5, Laguardia 5, Lejeune 4, Duarte 5, Aguirregabiria 6, Battaglia 5, Pina 5, Rioja 5, Joselu 7, Mendez 5. Subs: Sainz 4, Garcia 5, Perez 7, Pons 4, Deyverson 4.
Real Madrid: Courtois 5, Vazquez 6, Militao 7, Varane 6, Mendy 6, Kroos 8, Casemiro 7, Modric 9, Asensio 6, Benzema 8, Hazard 8. Subs: Vinicius 6, Odriozola 4, Isco 4.
13’ Benzema hits the post! The pass was played over the top by Modric, Benzema looked offside, but replays show he wasn't. The flag stays down and his second attempt strikes the post!
15’ GOAL! Alaves 0-1 Real Madrid (Casemiro): Casemiro comes up with another big goal for his team! The Brazilian midfielder got on the end of a corner kick delivery into the box and guided a header into the bottom corner of the Alaves net! Real Madrid have the advantage after 15 minutes!
41’ GOAL! Alaves 0-2 Real Madrid (Benzema): Brilliant from Real Madrid! They have doubled their advantage! A dummy from Hazard following a pass in-field from Vazquez created the space for Benzema and the French forward finished high into the roof of the Alaves net!
45+’ GOAL! Alaves 0-3 Real Madrid (Benzema): It's a third goal for Real Madrid and it's Hazard who has added his name to the score sheet! Alaves lost the ball in their own half, Kroos found Hazard who timed his run perfectly and clipped a finish into the back of the net! Good goal!
60’ GOAL! Alaves 1-3 Real Madrid (Joselu): Alaves have given themselves a lifeline in this match! Perez whipped a wonderful freekick delivery into the box and Joselu got on the end of the ball to power home a header! Poor defending by the Spanish champions. Courtois stood no chance.
70’ GOAL! Alaves 1-4 Real Madrid (Hazard): That should be the three points in the bag for Real Madrid! Benzema cut inside on to his right foot and guided a low finish into the far corner of the Alaves net! After a shaky start to the second half, the Spanish champions have reasserted themselves!
- Only Bayern Munich have scored more headed goals in Europe’s top five leagues than Real Madrid this season (12).
- Eden Hazard contributed a goal and an assist in an away league game for the first time as a Real Madrid player.
- Joselu now has five goals in his six La Liga games against Real Madrid for Alaves.
- Karim Benzema has now scored 10 goals for Real Madrid this season after scoring 21 in La Liga last season.