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Ceballos sinks his former club with late free-kick

Luka Modric gave Real Madrid the lead before Sergio Canales equalised and Dani Ceballos won with a late free-kick to give Real Madrid all three points.

Update:
Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Daniel Ceballos (2R) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Betis and Real Madrid CF at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville on January 13, 2019. (Photo by CRISTINA Q
CRISTINA QUICLERAFP

Real Betis 1-2 Real Madrid: match report

Real Madrid left it late to beat Real Betis and the winning goal came from a controversial source but Santiago Solari won't mind given his length list of absentees.

Without a win in the league in 2019, Real Madrid travelled to the Benito Villamarin with seven players either injured and suspended and with Vinicius nursing a flu. They left in the same circumstances but with an extra three points in their LaLiga account thanks to a late Dani Ceballos free-kick.

Solari opted for a 3-5-2 with Isco remaining out of the team and with Marcelo dropping to the bench. It certainly worked in the first half with their pressure causing problems for Real Betis.

Luka Modric scored from a deflected Dani Carvajal shot, which jolted Real Betis to life after 13 minutes. That, ironically, worked perfectly for Real Madrid as they countered with intensity and intention for the remainder of the half and with Vinicius ready to set off at a moment's notice, it kept Real Betis on their toes.

Sergio Canales had an effort that he whipped wide, possibly their best of the half, but they could not trouble Keylor Navas or the scoreboard.

Real Betis came out with a renewed sense of purpose and dominated possession and chances for 99% of the second 45. They pressed Madrid high and continued to throw crosses into the box mixed with some attacks in the center to keep the visitors on notice.

The goal eventually came through Canales, his third effort of the night, as he poked the ball between the legs of onrushing Keylor Navas.

It looked like Betis would push on and score a second but that equaliser did wake Madrid up even if they weren't quite sure how they wanted to attack. Betis continued to put them under pressure on the ball as they kicked it forward to Vinicius in the hope of him turning a punt into a goal.

William Carvalho pulled Casemiro down with 88 minutes gone and after some debate, it was decided that Dani Ceballos would take the free. He struck it clean but Pau Lopez left the left of his goal gaping as he took a step to the right as it was kicked.

And Real Madrid had done the unimaginable. With just 27 percent possession, they snatched the victory away from a deserving a deflated Real Betis.

The victory does not close the book on what happened on Sunday night and the performance invites more questions than answers but Solari can worry about that on Monday after a rough start to his year.

Real Betis vs Real Madrid live online: updates and commentary

Real Betis vs Real Madrid live online: preview

Real Madrid look to change their fortunes in LaLiga at the Benito Villamarin on Sunday night with a draw and a loss in their account to start 2019. Real Betis, for their part aren't much better off with a loss to relegation embattled Huesca last weeks. They are both on the cusp of Europe though with Real Madrid trying to squeeze into the top four and Betis lurking just outside the Europa League place.

Real Betis are without Junior Firpo, who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid having grown into a shinging light under Quique Setien. Sidnei and Wilfrid Kaptoum are also out with Takeshi Inui on international duty with Japan. They have just signed young phenom Diego Lainez but he doesn't make the bench having just arrived from Mexico.

Setien was asked about Real Madrid's poor form at his press conference but conceded that even a poor Real Madrid side is better than average. "Even playing badly they still put three past an opponent [Leganés] that made life difficult," he said.

Vinicius is in the squad but whether he starts or not remains to be seen. He missed the two training sessions prior to the trip to Seville with a flu but his high fever has reduced significantly over the last 36 hours and he might still start. Isco looks like he will start too with suspensions and injuries carving an opening in attack for him. Lucas Vazquez is suspended and Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Mariano Díaz are all injured.

Solari's midfield is weakened too with no Marcos Llorente or Toni Kroos. He is also without Thibaut Courtois but Keylor Navas is not much of a downgrade and he will be keen to convince the Argentine he is worthy of more chances than he has been offered recently.

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