Real Madrid secured a much-needed victory with a 3-0 defeat of Las Palmas at the Bernabéu. Casemiro opened the scoring for Zinedine Zidane’s side, Marco Asensio scored a sensational long-range goal after half-time, and Isco rounded off the win with a close-range finish after 74 minutes.
Los Blancos came in to the match in fourth place in LaLiga having suffered consecutive defeats to Girona and Tottenham Hotspur. The ‘C word’ – Crisis – had begun to circle. Zidane needed to heave Real Madrid’s season back on to an even keel. The alarm bells had been ringing for some time on Gran Canaria. Las Palmas manager Pako Ayestarán had only tasted defeat since taking the reins at the end of September.
Luka Modric dropped from the starting line-up following two dreary performances, while Jesús Vallejo made his first start in LaLiga alongside Sergio Ramos in the heart of defence. The visitors had to make do without Jonathan Viera, the midfield glue that holds their constituent parts together.
Karim Benzema was almost immediately presented with a chance to score the opening goal for Madrid. The French striker, who has been much maligned for the elusiveness of his goal-scoring touch, bore down on Raúl in the Las Palmas goal after running on to a Cristiano Ronaldo flick. Benzema stuttered, and fired the ball at the ‘keeper’s leg. He looks like a striker low on confidence.
Las Palmas had played 33 matches at the Bernabéu before this one, and they had conceded in each one of them. So there was a sense of inevitability as the home side found the net shortly before half time. A Las Palmas defender glanced Asensio's corner at the near post and Casemiro was perfectly placed to direct it in to the bottom corner. It was the first header that Real Madrid have scored in the league this season. In 2016-17, they scored 26.
Marco Asensio added the second in emphatic fashion after 56 minutes. Raúl punched the ball out from Toni Kroos’ free-kick and it bobbled invitingly for the Mallorcan. He waited until it skidded off the turf, and cut his boot at the ball with beautiful crispness. It continued rising until it hit thrashed the top corner of the net.
Cristiano Ronaldo provided a pinpoint assist for Isco to put the result beyond doubt with 16 minutes remaining. The Portuguese burst down the right flanks and centred the ball invitingly for Isco to tuck it in to the corner. Ronaldo greeted the goal with a frown, seemingly fed up by his own profligacy in front of goal. Lionel Messi has scored 12 goals from his 69 shots in LaLiga. Cristiano Ronaldo has one goal from 48.
Concerns surrounding the form of Ronaldo and Benzema persist, and this result has not miraculously fixed the problems that will persist at Real Madrid. Yet after the most difficult week of his managerial career, a victory was all that mattered for Zinadine Zidane.