Published 01/05/2021 at 18:16 GMT | Updated 01/05/2021 at 21:28 GMT
An Eder Militao header and a Casemiro fluke gave Real Madrid a 2-0 win over Osasuna to keep them in the thick of the title race.
Atletico Madrid’s narrow 1-0 win over Elche earlier in the day piled the pressure on Zinedine Zidane’s side to match that result. The defending champions ultimately closed the gap again to two points, but they had to work hard for the win.
The hosts started on the front foot and dominated the majority of the first half with Eden Hazard, back in the team following injury, lively. Sergio Herrera made a couple of good saves to deny Eder Militao before Chimy Avila had a headed goal ruled out for offside before the break.
Raphael Varane was withdrawn at half time with a leg problem, making him a doubt for the second leg of next week’s Champions League semi-final against Chelsea. Isco and Rodrygo were introduced as Real Madrid struggled for creativity.
However, the breakthrough finally came after 76 minutes when Militao, who had been a threat from set pieces, got on the end of an Isco corner kick delivery to head into the back of the net.
Real Madrid doubled their advantage soon after, with Casemiro inadvertently diverting a Karim Benzema pass over the goal line with Herrera wrong-footed. The pressure in the title race now shifts to Barcelona, who face Valencia on Sunday, and Sevilla, who host Athletic Club on Monday.
Eden Hazard of Real Madrid runs with the ball during the La Liga Santander match between Real Madrid and C.A. Osasuna at Alfredo Di Stefano on May 01, 2021 in Madrid, Spain.
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - How serious is the injury sustained by Raphael Varane?
This was a hugely significant victory for Real Madrid, but it may have come at a cost with Varane withdrawn at half time due to a leg injury. Zidane is already light on options at the back with Sergio Ramos still sidelined along with Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez. With the second leg of the Champions League semi final against Chelsea on the horizon, Real Madrid will now be left sweating on the fitness of Varane.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Eder Militao (Real Madrid)
This was an impressive Ramos impersonation by Militao, the player who deputised for the Real Madrid captain in his absence. Not so long ago, the Brazilian looked finished at Real Madrid, but he has grown with almost every match he has played for the club in recent weeks and this was his best display so far, breaking the deadlock with an excellent header and holding firm at the back.
23’ Off the crossbar! Close to a fluke opener for the away side! Sanchez was trying to send a cross into the box, but he cut across the ball and caught out Courtois with spin. Off the bar!
27’ HAZARD... saved! What a chance for the Belgian to open the scoring for Real Madrid! Marcelo found Hazard's run in behind, but Herrera makes the save to tip the shot over!
28’ Militao saved! An even better save from Herrera! Militao made a perfect connection with a cross into the middle, it was on target, but the Osasuna goalkeeper tips over the crossbar!
44’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... NO! Osasuna think they have taken the lead right at the end of the first half, but Avila, who glanced the header home, was just offside!
76’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Osasuna: There's the breakthrough and it's a crucial one for Real Madrid! Militao gets on the end of a corner kick delivery into the box and guides a header past Herrera and into the back of the net! The Brazilian defender had tested Herrera with a couple headers in the first half!
80’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-0 Osasuna: How has that ended up in the back of the net? Benzema played the pass through to Casemiro and the Brazilian midfielder's touch somehow fooled Herrera and crosses the goal line! No matter how it happened, Real Madrid now have a two-goal cushion!
Casemiro made his 200th appearance for Real Madrid in La Liga.
Real Madrid registered 13 shots in the first half against Osasuna, the most they have registered in any game in all competitions this season without scoring.