Real Madrid missed the chance to once again draw level with Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga as they finished 2020 with a 1-1 draw away to Elche.
Luka Modric came back into the Real Madrid starting line-up having missed the win over Granada before Christmas and it was the Croatian who opened the scoring, heading home a rebound from a Marco Asensio strike that crashed off the bar.
The visitors looked to have been awarded a spot kick not long before half time when the referee saw a handball in the box. VAR, however, showed there had been no handball and the decision was overturned.
Elche, however, were awarded a penalty kick five minutes into the second half when Dani Carvajal manhandled Antonio Barragan inside the box. Fidel converted from 12 yards out to restore parity.
Eden Hazard, Fede Valverde and Vinicius were introduced as Real Madrid searched for a late winner, but there was to be no second goal as Elche held on for a point to stop the defending champions from joining Atleti on 35 points.
TALKING POINT - Zidane waited too long to try something different
It was apparent long before the 77-minute mark that Real Madrid were tiring and struggling to find a way through Elche and yet that’s how long Zinedine Zidane waited to make changes to his team off the bench. Hazard, Valverde and Vinicius were introduced and gave the visitors some much-needed energy and drive, but they were afforded too little time to actually make much of a difference. Zidane’s lack of trust in his squad was exposed this evening.
Luka Modric of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the La Liga Santander match between Elche CF and Real Madrid at Estadio Martinez Valero on December 30, 2020 in Elche, Spain
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Edgar Badia (Elche)
While Elche played well in the second half and created opportunities of their own, drawing level after falling behind in the first half, they still needed their goalkeeper to pull off a handful of good saves to earn them the point. Edgar Badia made stops from Carvajal and Sergio Ramos. He was a brick wall that Real Madrid failed to breach after taking a relatively early lead. Badia certainly played his role for the home side.
Eibar - Edgar 9, Barragan 7, Verdu 7, Josema 6, Sanchez 5, Guti 7, Marcone 5, Víctor 6, Fidel 7, Boye 7, Rigoni 8. Subs - Josan 5, Morente 3, Carrillo.
Real Madrid - Courtois 8, Carvajal 5, Varane 5, Ramos 6, Marcelo 6, Casemiro 7, Modric 8, Kroos 7, Vazquez 6, Asensio 6, Benzema 5. Subs - Hazard 4, Valverde 5, Vinicius 3.
50’ PENALTY KICK TO ELCHE! Carvajal manhandled Barragan right in front of the referee and the hosts have a penalty!
52’ GOAL! Elche 1-1 Real Madrid: Elche are back on level terms! Fidel steps up to the penalty spot and finds the bottom left corner of the Real Madrid net! Courtois went the right way and was at full stretch, but there was no way the goalkeeper was keeping that out! Back on level terms!
65’ He hits the post! What an effort by Boye! Rigoni was in behind Marcelo once again, he played the pass to Boye, he performed a magnificent turn, but his low shot clips the base of the Real Madrid post!
90+3’ Last kick of the game! Verdu gets a freekick up and over the Real Madrid wall, but Courtois makes the diving save to prevent the strike from finding the back of the net!
Real Madrid have conceded six penalties in their last nine La Liga games, as many as in their previous 65 matches.
Luka Modric scored his first headed goal for Real Madrid after 364 La Liga appearances for the club.