REAL MADRID

The Lucas effect: a goal and 5 assists from the bench

This season Lucas Vázquez has only started six games, in total playing 969 minutes. But his influence is being noticed by manager and Madrid faithful.

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Lucas Vázquez is not holding down a starting position, but his performances are screaming for that to change. His meteoric entry to the field on Tuesday against Roma, was key to the match and was the most recent of his excellent displays. He provided the assist for Cristiano to score the first goal after great work down the right hand side against Digne. It's what we might have to start calling 'The Lucas Vázquez Effect". And Tuesday wasn't a one-off. The Galician youngster has come off the bench several times scoring one goal, creating five assists and provoking a penalty.

His enthusiasm soon became apparent. In Matchday 3, he was a substitute against Espanyol and Los Blancos were up 0-5 when Benitez brought him on for Benzema, just after the hour mark. He was superb. In the 80th minute he got the ball and laid on an assist for Ronaldo to put the finish on a 6-goal drubbing. The signs were there again against Malmo (played 17 mins, another assist for Cristiano) and Levante (played the second half and set-up Jesé for the third). In Eibar, on November 29, he didn't score or assist, well, not directly but he did create the penalty that Cristiano put away to seal the 0-2 victory. Against Real Sociedad was his first and only goal of the season, in what was the last home match for Benitez. When Zidane next knocked on his door, in the 79th minute against Athletic Bilbao with a 3-1 lead, and seven minutes later he put in Ronaldo for an even more decisive 4-1.

"I always try to seize the opportunity and give everything I've got," Lucas said after the game against Roma. This attitude excites Zidane who said, "Every time he plays, he delivers," and the Bernabeu crowd on Tuesday showed its own appreciated to the Galician with a standing ovation.